Technology, Gen Z and Security on site: how is the industry changing?
Like every other sector, construction is currently going through major shifts thanks to the influence of technology and the changing shape of the workforce. Skills shortages, the impact of the pandemic and spikes in demand are just some of the reasons why it’s so vital for businesses in this industry to be aware of the shifts and the way that new generations and technology are driving serious change.
Attracting younger generations needs to start now
The construction workforce has an older than average age and, as more mature workers make their way out of the industry, this is going to leave behind significant shortages of skills and experience. Younger generations are the future of the construction sector but are also likely to bring with them significant change. Today, the real challenge for employers is finding ways to attract Millennials and Gen Z workers into construction. Doing this requires an understanding of what those cohorts are most likely to respond to:
- A well-defined career path
- A clear commitment to values and sustainable choices
- Competitive wages, bonus and benefits opportunities
- Promotions that are merit-based rather than depending on time served with the business
- The opportunity to customise a career path – 56% of Gen Z would rather write their own job description than just be given a generic one.
- An investment in ongoing learning and training within the business and the potential for both personal and professional development.
- Integrating a wide range of effort, resource and time-saving technology. Millennials are very savvy when it comes to tech and Gen Z is the first digitally native generation so expectations around tech are high.
Improving safety and security on construction sites is changing
The advance of technology has created many challenges in construction – but also a lot of opportunities, especially when it comes to safety and security. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can allow businesses to take a much more proactive approach to site safety. There are also a range of new safety considerations that come from increased digitisation, including the requirement to focus more on cyber security. Both of these are going to change the way that the industry functions going forward.
AI and site safety
AI makes it possible to better manage the risks and respond in real-time when an event occurs. These are just some of the ways in which it is already making sites safer:
- 24/7 monitoring – AI-driven monitoring can be constant, integrating and analysing data from a wide range of different sources, including IoT and infrared cameras.
- Predicting the impact of digital and physical threats – for example, curtailing a digital breach that could compromise physical equipment.
- Compliance and PPE – using machine learning algorithms and pattern matching can show where workers are not in compliance with PPE requirements.
- Using predictive models to improve the way that risks are managed in order to make construction sites safer.
- Real-time safety and security monitoring allow for more flexible and responsive approaches to health and safety on construction sites to improve records and minimise incidents.
The new focus on cybersecurity
One of the big changes for the construction industry today is understanding just how vital a role cybersecurity now has to play in risk management and growth. Technology is already used everywhere in the sector – and this is a trend that is going to continue in the years to come. As a result, having suitable cyber defences in place is now essential to deal with major threats. Some of the biggest threats that could potentially affect businesses in the industry right now are phishing, ransomware and the compromising of wire transfers.
There are a number of ways in which construction businesses can put defences in place when it comes to cybersecurity, including:
- Strong password processes, including regularly changing passwords and using complex and sophisticated combinations.
- Introducing multi-factor authentication to improve security. This ensures that there are multiple steps involved in access and places obstacles in the way of people who are trying to get into systems where they shouldn’t be.
- Multiple back-ups. Ensuring that data and files are regularly backed up in a range of different locations means that the business can still have access to critical information even if the central source is compromised.
- Implementing regular training. Awareness of cybersecurity threats – and putting a clear plan of action in place for people to execute when these emerge – is a vital part of ensuring any business is responsive to this kind of crime.
What does the tech-driven future of construction look like?
As digitisation continues to accelerate in the construction sector there are now many different technologies that will have a role to play in driving progress and change in the coming years, including:
- Drones. These handy robots are cheap labour and can be used to carry out surveys at speed, as well as access site locations that may be dangerous or problematic for humans to get to.
- 3D printing. We are already seeing 3D printing being used to create prefabricated components and this is a part of the industry that will accelerate when the technology allows for mass production.
- Data collection apps. Thanks to the widespread use of devices it’s now simple to use data collection apps on construction sites. Workflows can be automated to save time and money and errors reduced by up to 50%.
- Virtual Reality (VR) and wearable devices. Wearable tech has a range of benefits, including boosting productivity in construction by more than 8%. VR offers the opportunity to envisage a building before a brick has been laid and to use sophisticated software to identify and eliminate build problems in advance.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI). From slow workflows to poor health and safety AI can deliver upgrades to many different areas of construction.
The construction industry is being hit with change from every angle today, whether that relates to tech advancements or the shifting nature of the workforce. The combined impact is going to pave the way for a wealth of future progress.