I’m not alone, or going out on much of a limb, in predicting that Canada’s thriving construction industry will only get bigger in 2020.
It has grown substantially every year since 2015, after all, and employed nearly eight percent of the Canadian workforce — that’s more than 1.4 million people — in 2018.
Yet, for an industry that employs more Canadians than finance, insurance and real-estate combined, it’s one of the least-advanced in terms of technology. That means there’s an unusual amount of room for tech to play a role, and that’s where these three predictions for 2020 come in:
1. Smart project management technologies will help construction firms improve their profitability and margins.
According to Deloitte, most engineering and construction firms suffer from low profitability and margins, with earnings before interest and tax averaging just 5.5 percent of sales globally. A shortage of talent is among the reasons for this sluggish performance, with Deloitte identifying “the rise of smart project management” as a factor that could enable “better informed decisions around scheduling labour,” among other efficiencies.
Trouble is, the construction industry has tended to resist the digital revolution. Whether it’s about workers conducting an estimate, bidding on management or take-off, pen and paper is still used to manage projects. The end results: More errors, less efficiency, and a lack of synergy on the job site.
The good news is that some tech companies are making progress in the construction industry. The ProCore software platform, for instance, provides companies with real-time project updates and file synchronization, while Vancouver-based SiteMax Systems provides construction reporting software to clients across North America. Then there’s Toronto-based TOOLBX, an on-demand delivery service for construction materials and supplies that helps builders maximize job site productivity and efficiency by streamlining material procurement.
At Faber, meanwhile, we’re addressing the missing piece in all of this: The construction workers who are the heart and soul of every construction project. Our two mobile apps, Faber Contractor and Faber Worker, connect contractors to workers with the right skill levels for jobs, and workers with jobs that match what they’re looking for. On that note…
2. It will become easier for construction workers to find jobs
With union memberships aging and declining, younger construction workers and tradespeople are turning to Craigslist ads, temp agencies, and employment-related search engines for employment. On Indeed, for example, there are more than 235,000 construction profiles waiting to be connected to employers.
However, these outlets are riddled with inefficiencies, including a lack of transparency around compensation, the level and type of work required, the costs of using a recruiter, and slow response times.
Faber Worker overcomes all these issues. Using the app, workers can easily connect with a job, manage their work schedule, and receive all of their payments seamlessly. In fact, the Faber Connect platform pays almost 30 percent more than any temporary agency in Canada, and does so on a weekly basis.
3. Construction costs will come down, and projects will be completed more quickly
Some of the largest contractors in Canada — Turner Construction, Graham Construction and Bird Construction, to name a few — are using Faber Contractor to help site managers spend less time in an office organizing new workers, and more time getting projects built. The app also allows contractors to hire the right workers projects, which are matched to verified worker profiles based on skill, experience and location. Invoice management, payroll and insurance compliance is handled through Faber Connect, which allows companies to have very lean back offices.
This Uber-esque model, with its real-time tools, tracking and linking capabilities, can quickly deliver big returns. So again, I’m not going out on any sort of limb when I say that this is essential to the future of the construction industry.
John Reid is the CRO of Faber Technologies.