The impact of skilled labor shortages in construction has affected industries across the world, from utilities to education. If you’re planning a construction project for your organization but aren’t sure how to overcome the lack of skilled workers, modular buildings are a great solution.
Along with mitigating skilled labor shortages in construction, modular solves a variety of industry problems. Let’s start by looking at the sources of skilled workforce shortages in construction and how modular addresses these issues.
What Causes Skilled Labor Shortages in Construction?
One of the main factors contributing to skilled labor shortages in construction is the widening gap between older and younger workers. As baby boomers age out and retire, fewer millennials and Gen Zers are entering the construction workforce. This is largely due to the rise in technology-driven jobs and a shift away from manual labor. As a result, many construction companies haven’t been able to hire enough workers to meet the growing demand for new projects.
The shortage of qualified workers extends project timelines and draws out job completion, leading to dissatisfied clients. And the longer it takes to complete one project, the longer it takes to start the next. To facilitate growth, many construction companies have developed in-house training and apprenticeship programs to nurture younger workers.
The effects of COVID-19 also took a significant toll on the construction industry. Nearly one million construction workers were let go or laid off during the first few months of the pandemic. In fact, the number of layoffs in April 2020 was more than four times that of pre-COVID-19 levels. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 1.6 million new construction jobs will be added through 2022. Nonresidential construction spending is also predicted to grow by 27% in that same period.
Modular Solves Skilled Labor Shortages in Construction
Modular projects require fewer workers than traditional construction jobs, significantly lessening the impact of skilled labor shortages in construction. Modular manufacturing facilities are usually located in areas with a large, diverse labor pool, reducing the risk of skilled labor shortages. Plus, these facilities are staffed with qualified employees who don’t have to travel between jobs (like construction workers).
Modular Makes Remote Construction a Breeze
Modular also solves the problem of skilled workforce shortages during construction in remote areas. Builders, electricians, plumbers, and heavy equipment operators are often in short supply in rural locations. Plus, they may need to travel great distances to reach a job site, extending your timeline and increasing your budget.
Because 95% of construction is completed off-site, modular mitigates the effects of skilled labor shortages in remote locations. You’re only responsible for site preparation and final installation, and your building will be shipped directly to you.
Many utility providers, fossil fuel excavators, mines, quarries, and agri-businesses use modular buildings for substations, scale houses, laboratories, and more. And if you’re undertaking an extended construction project in a remote location, you can also use modular buildings to house workers. These structures include dormitories, locker rooms, cafeterias, and restrooms, among others.
Modular Significantly Reduces Construction Waste
Modular construction also reduces the amount of construction waste that ends up in landfills. Nearly 40% of landfill waste in the U.S. comes from construction materials, including packaging, timber, and plasterboard.
Because it’s constructed at a controlled, off-site location, modular lessens construction waste by a whopping 90%. Excess materials from one project are used for the next one, and output is streamlined via efficient inventory control and automation.
Along with reducing construction waste, modular is an eco-friendly option that embodies the green lifecycle. Modular construction promotes adaptable reuse, which is the practice of repurposing existing buildings for new uses. It’s adaptable, flexible, reusable, and designed to be unbuilt.
Modular construction also reduces any negative environmental impacts at the building site. Fewer vehicles mean less sound and air pollution, along with minimized disruption of adjacent green space.
Modular is Much Safer for Workers
The construction industry can be very dangerous. In fact, OSHA reports that around 20% of worker fatalities in the last few years were in the construction sector. However, modular’s off-site construction practices significantly reduce the chances of job site injuries. These include the Fatal Four, which are falls, electrocution, getting caught between objects, or being struck by an object.
There are a variety of ways in which modular construction reduces the risk of injury or death. These include the following:
Fewer number of tasks must be completed at great heights
Absence of slippery surfaces created by inclement weather
No risk of exposing electrical lines to moisture
Use of permanent scaffolding that’s rarely assembled and disassembled
Adequate space to perform tasks, including complex assemblies
Fewer workers on-site for shorter periods of time
Minimized risk of being struck by large construction vehicles
Because 95% of construction occurs indoors, modular buildings allow you to avoid weather delays almost entirely. Building materials and equipment are also protected from the elements, avoiding waste and keeping costs as low as possible. While bad weather will still impact site preparation and final assembly, other delays to your work schedule will be minimal. Inclement weather puts construction crews behind schedule, which can blow your budget, extend your timeline, and lead to mistakes and injuries. In fact, studies show that the construction industry loses billions of dollars a year on delays and damages due to bad weather.
Modular Eliminates the Need to Manage Multiple Projects
It can be extremely difficult to manage multiple construction projects at the same time, especially if you’re working with several different contractors. Things become even more complicated when you factor in multiple job sites. You’re responsible for managing several timelines and budgets, along with overseeing progress and ensuring things go smoothly.
These problems are eliminated entirely with modular construction since your structures are built in one off-site factory. All of your building materials can be purchased at once and a team of qualified workers will construct your modules simultaneously.
Can Modular Solve Problems in Your Industry?
Modular buildings aren’t just for the construction industry. In fact, businesses in nearly any sector can benefit from modular. These industries include (but are not limited to) the following: