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Bolstering an unskilled workforce through quality inspections

By Linda Schwefel
January 4, 2022

Having problems finding skilled construction workers? You’re not alone. The labor shortage has hit the construction industry particularly hard: home builder contractors estimate that nearly three-quarters of a million construction workers will be needed each year to keep up with demand and account for attrition, while 92% of commercial construction contractors report moderate to high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers.

According to the Q3 2021 Chamber of Commerce report however, finding skilled workers in the industry continues to be a challenge, with labor shortages resulting in 73% of contractors stating it’s more difficult to meet deadlines and 59% putting in higher bids for projects. Perhaps most alarming, 42% of contractors reporting that they’ve turned down work due to skilled labor shortages.

The labor shortage as status quo

As in other industries, the average age of construction workers has been steadily increasing, from 36 in 1985 to 42.9 in 2020.  Not only is this older than the median age for all workers, the physical nature of construction work means that workers retire earlier, averaging 61 years.

A larger issue is that fewer young people are going into construction. A 2016 study found that of the 74% of young adults aged 18-25 who knew what career they wished to pursue, only 3% wanted to work in construction trades. Even more alarming, of the young adults without a career choice in mind, 21% would consider a career in the construction trade only if the pay were more than $100,000 a year, while 43% wouldn’t consider construction work at any level of compensation.

Clearly, the labor shortage isn’t going anywhere, and construction contractors need to adjust to make best use of the workers they have, whether they have twenty years on the job… or twenty minutes.

The role of quality inspections with new workers

Routine inspections are a crucial part of every construction project. They ensure that workflows within a project are planned according to requirements, standards, and regulations. Inspections are necessary throughout as a project progresses to document that industry standards have been met for accuracy and quality and to keep construction work on time and within budget. With older, more experienced workers aging out of the workforce, and the influx of new workers, but in far fewer numbers than desired and far less room for error, it has never been more important to ensure that every worker is working to his or her best capabilities, and that work is done correctly, the first time. Fulfilling these needs is the quality inspection.

Not only do quality inspections ensure that work is done according to specifications, they also can serve as a blueprint for work. New workers can refer to quality checklists to keep on the right track, while checking quality in each step ensures that mistakes are caught quickly, before they become habit, before substantial increase in number of materials are wasted (and incidentally, materials are perhaps even more in short supply than workers!) and before they require costly full-project do-overs.

With mobile field inspection management, everyone is a quality inspector

With Fulcrum’s Field Inspection Management platform, full participation in quality assurance is within reach for every worker. Checklists ensure that work is done to specification, with image and video capturing to document work performed. Mandatory entries make certain that information is provided where necessary, while drop-down menus of choices help novice workers by providing options so they don’t have to attempt to qualify or describe job specifications or site conditions.

In addition, with increased labor shortages, the likelihood of workers being alone in the field has never been greater. With digital inspections, supervisors can remotely manage their staff, ensure that workers are in the right place, and even remotely check work to make sure that any issues are quickly resolved.

Finally, the shortage of workers means that it’s critical to have every worker at work in the field, and not wasting time returning to the office to share data, or worse, to transcribe data from paper and then share it. With the Fulcrum Field Inspection Management platform, data is uploaded to the Cloud for instant sharing with supervisors, clients and other stakeholders for analysis and reporting, so your workers can remain at work, and not drive to and from job sites and office locations.

Fulcrum’s field inspection management for construction quality

Fulcrum’s mobile field inspection management platform empowers your workers to become field inspectors, regardless of knowledge and experience level, providing you with the consistent, complete, and accurate project quality inspection data you require to stay on track, on budget, and meet your deadlines.

Take digital field inspections for a test drive

To try Fulcrum’s construction quality field inspection management for yourself, we’ll digitize an existing form, checklist, or spreadsheet for field testing in Fulcrum at no charge (for qualified customers – contact for more information).  You’ve got nothing to lose, except a few coffee-stained pieces of paper and some clipboards.

Why wait?

Join the over 2,500 Fulcrum customers who have improved field inspection processes and streamlined reporting with real-time, scalable data sharing. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today!