Navigating the Skilled Labor Shortage: Embracing Automation in the Construction Industry

Indiana Lane
August 15, 2023
industry insight

In the ever-evolving landscape of construction, a significant shift is underway in the relationship between General Contractors and Subcontractors. The construction industry's skilled labor pool is shrinking faster than ice cream in this scorching summer. We can partially blame it on COVID-19, which brought us pricey lumber, muffled conversations through masks, and a bizarre toilet paper crisis. But unlike the latter, skilled labor didn't make a comeback. This shortage, coupled with the increase in GCs entering retirement and reduction in the number of skilled tradespeople, calls for innovative strategies to maintain work quality and sustain business growth. In this short article, we delve into the pressing issue of the skilled labor shortage, explore the potential of automation as a solution, and discuss how embracing technology is revolutionizing the construction industry.

The Changing Dynamics of Skilled Labor

The aftermath of COVID-19 has brought about a multitude of changes, ranging from supply chain disruptions to altered work arrangements. However, one challenge remains: the scarcity of skilled laborers in both residential and commercial construction. As the industry grapples with project delays, skyrocketing materials/labor costs, and disgruntled clients, construction business owners find themselves compelled to devise creative solutions to bridge the labor gap.

The Hypothesis: Automation as a Game-Changer

The skilled labor shortage will not be solved overnight, this year, or next. With less resources available, teams are forced to build slower, pass on potential projects, or find different ways to maximize effectiveness of their current teams.

Remember math class nightmares? Well, they're back – with a twist. Less skilled tradesmen plus fewer GCs equals longer project timelines, right?

Thankfully there's an alternative approach worth exploring: automation. Picture a scenario where 1 employee can do the work of 2 or 3, staff members are given back hours every day to focus on clients, and finally, putting every last piece of paper away for good and filing everything electronically for immediate accessibility. Could this be the key to building more efficiently and maintaining top-tier quality?

Navigating the Shortage: Embracing Automation

Amidst the ongoing shortage, the concept of automation emerges as a lifeline for the construction industry. Various avenues of automation are being explored to counter the labor crunch, including things like modular development, 3D printing, and AI. However, it is construction software that takes center stage, offering a multifaceted solution that not only boosts productivity but also aligns with the evolving tech-driven landscape.

Looking Forward: A Tech-Savvy Reconstruction

The harsh reality is that the skilled labor shortage won't find a quick resolution. The industry faces a monumental task of filling a staggering 550,000 positions just to meet current demand in the United States alone. The situation is further exacerbated by the aging workforce, particularly skilled laborers, who are approaching retirement age without a ready supply of replacements. This demographic shift necessitates forward-thinking strategies that attract younger, tech-savvy individuals to rebuild and rejuvenate the construction sector for the long haul.


The construction industry finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with a shortage of skilled laborers that shows no signs of abating. In this challenging landscape, embracing automation emerges as a beacon of hope. By leveraging technology, businesses can empower their workforce to accomplish more, optimize efficiency, and ensure consistent quality in their projects. As we navigate these uncharted waters, the fusion of construction know-how and cutting-edge tech promises to reshape the industry, ensuring its resilience and growth in a changing world.

Obviously we are biased, and we’d love for you to check out and utilize inBuild, but there is amazing software on the market that solve many other challenges in the industry. Overall, we recommend looking for tools that provide efficiency across an entire workflow in your business (ie all of your AP, or all of your project scheduling).

Based on our customers' feedback and our own evaluation, we believe that the following software solutions stand out: Procore, Quickbooks, Docusign, Buildertrend, and Sage. These exceptional tools have proven to be highly effective and reliable in their respective domains. Be warned that many products have great tools and features, but may not play well with your existing tools or business process. In the end, your educated opinion and research will be the most valuable insight you can have. If you would like assistance exploring options for your business, feel free to send us a message and we’ll assist in any way we can.