Labour, supply chain top concerns in Procore survey
June 22, 2023 By Patrick Flannery
Procore Technologies, a global provider of construction management software, has released its construction industry benchmark report1How We Build Now: Technology and industry trends shaping Canadian construction in 2023. The report examines the general sentiment of the industry, the digital maturity and adoption of construction technologies, as well as the challenges and opportunities that businesses face.
Nine out of 10 of respondents in Canada express confidence (44% very confident) about industry conditions over the next 12 months, with seven out of 10 construction businesses expecting an increase in the number (70%) or value of projects (72%) over the same timeframe.
A recent poll2reveals 92 per cent of Canadians agreed there is an urgent need to build more or update current infrastructure in Canada over the next two years. This new How We Build Now (Canada) report shows:
- 43 per cent of those who work in the residential sector expect to build more housing units in 2023 compared to 2022
- Over half of respondents from B.C. (51%) and Alberta (55%) who work in the residential sector expect to build and deliver fewer housing units in 2023 compared to 2022. This is a stark contrast in comparison to Ontario where 60 per cent of respondents expect to build and deliver more housing units in 2023
Labour Shortages and Supply Chain Problems Are Key Concerns
This latest report finds that respondents consider hiring and retaining skilled labour as one of the top challenges they face over the next 12 months.
- 29 per cent report they have been unable to take on more projects in the past three to six months due to labour shortage
- 27 per cent agree it is hard for construction to compete with other industries for good employees
- 27 per cent agree there is too much competition in construction for talent
- 32 per cent fear that some of their most experienced people will retire within the next few years and take valuable knowledge with them
Supply chain problems are impacting respondents to a different extent across the country. Québec-based respondents report the highest impact, with 41 per cent reporting significant delays due to supply chain issues, compared to 35 per cent of respondents from Ontario and just a quarter of respondents in B.C.
Digital Transformation Critical to Overcoming Roadblocks
Construction firms in Canada understand that digital transformation is required to overcome the labour shortage: 22 per cent of construction businesses consider themselves a digital-first business and 51 per cent are ‘well on the way’ to adopting digital formats and workflows.
Construction decision makers recognize that technology provides benefits, particularly around resource efficiency through less rework, an enemy of sustainability. The survey shows 27 per cent of the total time spent on a project is spent on rework or rectifying issues. Other findings:
- Almost half of all projects go over budget (50%) and over schedule (49%) according to respondents
- Over 30 per cent of respondents identify needing new technology to improve operational efficiency and cost controls amid economic volatility
- Paper remains a common medium for Canadian construction decision makers. About a quarter of respondents (23-28%, depending on the workflow) still use paper-based records or non-digital processes as part of their workflows
Data as a Competitive Difference
According to the report, the industry realizes the value of data yet they are not able to leverage it to the fullest. Forty-one per cent of respondents feel that they would be able to make better decisions if they had better access to real-time and historic information on project performance.
- Respondents believe they could save up to 12 per cent of their total spending on projects if they captured, integrated and standardized data more efficiently
- Respondents report spending 17 per cent of their time on a typical project searching for data or information – clearly too much time on low productivity tasks
- Half of the respondents say they have a foundation in place to begin learning from their data but don’t necessarily have a dedicated data team in place. One in five say much of their data exists in spreadsheets or on paper and they do not leverage data to drive business outcomes
“We are encouraged to see the Canadian construction industry’s leaders express optimism as they look to consolidate and build on post-pandemic progress,” said Nolan Frazier, regional sales director, Canada, Procore. “In particular, this survey shows half of the respondents see a need to embrace greater collaboration in projects among stakeholders; half of them are also well on their way in their digital transformation journey. Some also recognize the opportunity to leverage the massive amounts of data generated through the use of technology to make more data-driven decisions across every phase of the construction life cycle. Ultimately, smarter construction empowers construction businesses to have better control of their projects and deliver higher quality builds.”
The Future of Construction Technology
Respondents rate construction management platforms, clean technologies involving green, sustainable or innovative materials, and next generation BIM as the top technologies that will drive change in the construction industry over the next three years.
- Over half of respondents (56%) are either currently using (29%) or plan to adopt a construction management platform (27%) over the next 12 months
- More than six out of 10 (62%) of Canadian organizations are either currently using (26%) or plan to adopt (36%) clean technologies over the next 12 months
Sustainable Construction is Top of Mind
Overall, the industry is keen to adopt more environmentally conscious and sustainable building practices. Approximately half of the respondents (50%) have started to focus on strategies like prefabrication and improved material selection to reduce the carbon footprint of their projects. Four in 10 are either currently tracking or plan to start tracking (within the next 12 months) carbon emissions on their construction projects.
Workplace Diversity and Inclusion in Construction Are Critical
Currently, women make up a minority of the construction workforce, particularly in executive roles (24%). Subcontractors have the lowest ratio when it comes to having female members on staff. Only 22 per cent of executive staff at trade contractors are female compared with around 25 per cent at owners and general contractors.
- Almost four in 10 (38%) of construction decision makers believe that there is a need to improve diversity and inclusion in construction workplaces to attract women, minorities and historically underrepresented groups
- Only 41 per cent of respondents have a diversity and inclusion policy in place with another 45 per cent planning to implement one in the next 12 months
Many organizations recognize the need to improve the well-being of their workforce (see Procore’s Get Construction Talking campaign). Four in 10 (41%) report having a wellness and mental health practice or policy in place to reduce the likelihood of burnout; 46 per cent plan to implement a process in the next 12 months.
Despite some fundamental labour challenges, respondents are optimistic about the future. Approximately eight in 10 are confident they will have enough people to meet their organizational needs (79%) and the necessary skills to meet demand (80%) over the next 12 months.
For more information, download the How We Build Now: Technology and industry trends shaping Canadian construction in 2023 report: http://www.procore.com/en-ca/ebooks/how-we-build-now-report-can
Attend the panel discussion with Canadian Construction Association, Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association and Procore on July 13 at 1:00 p.m. ET: https://www.procore.com/en-ca/webinars/how-we-build-now-2023
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