Building up diversity in the construction industry

Builders can solve long-standing labor challenges, and increase opportunities for innovation
(Photo: Hongqi Zhang, Dreamstime)

2020 doled out no shortage of challenges, but one that has plagued the construction industry for some time has been keeping up with projects amidst persistent labor shortages. Finding qualified workers has been a struggle across the trades. Construction has fared better than other industries since the pandemic started—the pandemic scythed employment in the leisure and hospitality industry, and retail and restaurants struggled with social distancing measures—but hasn’t been immune to increases in unemployment.

The increase in people from other industries looking for new opportunities helps builders address another challenge. As Amy Guettler writes in our cover story, “Opportunity often lies where change and challenge intersect, so with so many Americans unemployed, underemployed, or overworked in a scramble to pay the bills, the pandemic reveals an obvious antidote to the industry’s chronic labor shortage: A healthy dose of diversity in the workforce.”

Diverse backgrounds and perspectives in the workforce can lead to more innovation, higher growth and more resilient businesses, according to consulting firm BCG. Construction companies are still catching on to that message, but Guettler talks to some leaders in the industry who are proactively building more opportunities to help builders capture these benefits and grow their workforce.

Health and wellness have been top of mind during the public health crisis that started last year. In the construction industry, worker health has largely focused on safety. As Josh Kreger of Pinnacol Assurance put it, “In a high-consequence industry like construction, you get hyper focused on the things that can kill you.” However, the mundane concerns of daily life that leave workers preoccupied or just not working at their best on jobsites can create problems for builders. We talked to folks like Kreger, experts at NIOSH and wellness consultants to learn more about how builders can address those little concerns before they become big headaches.

The most popular choice for outdoor areas is a combined patio and porch, but the humble deck is not to be overlooked. Homeowners are increasingly turning to integrated designs, contemporary styles and innovative materials to build decks that are a cohesive part of their homes and can stand up to the elements Colorado throws at them, without demanding hours of maintenance. The result is beautiful decks that homeowners can enjoy barefoot or in ski boots.

Danielle Andrus

Danielle Andrus is the managing editor of Colorado Builder. She can be reached at [email protected].

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