Women in construction see digital transformation as a priority

By Jenny LescohierMarch 08, 2022

Women represent nearly 11% of construction workers in the U.S., and in Canada the number recently topped 13%.

Digital transformation is a priority at nearly three quarters of construction companies in the U.S., according to results of a recent survey which also said 77% of respondents believe it will make their jobs easier.

In celebration of Women in Construction Week 2022, March 6-12, a joint survey by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Safe Site Check In - “Digital Technology in Construction: 2022” - polled 600 women working in the construction industry at companies with revenues between $500,000 to over $1B annually.

Participants were asked a variety of questions about digital transformation, the construction labor shortage and the impact of supply chain disruptions.

Among the key findings, digital transformation is a priority at 71% of construction companies. When asked about the benefits of digital transformation, 77% of respondents believe it will make their jobs easier while 17% believe it will have no impact.

Only 5% believe their jobs will be harder while 1% believe digital transformation will eliminate their jobs.

“Digital transformation is gaining significant momentum in the construction industry. Along with making work easier without compromising the quality of

the finished product, it also opens up more opportunities for women,” said Crissy Ingram, executive director, NAWIC. “The survey shows the importance of digital technology and, ideally, it’s potential to address some of the issues driven by the construction labor shortage.”

When it comes to the impact of new technologies designed for the construction industry, 95% report being more productive. In terms of learning new technology at work, 70% of survey respondents are excited, 24% are indifferent and 6% are frustrated.

When survey participants were asked which of the latest construction technologies are most helpful, 72% said smartphone apps for managing projects and the workforce. This was followed by GPS Layout at 13%, and drones and robots at 9%. Other technologies cited include augmented reality and wearables, each at 3%.

In light of the construction labor shortage, it’s important to note that among the survey participants, 52% work in the office, where they are less likely to feel the impact of the job site workforce deficits. Another 44% work on job sites and the office, and 4% work solely on job sites. In response to the question, “In what ways does the construction labor shortage impact your job?” respondents shared:

  • Projects take longer: 53%
  • It doesn’t impact my job: 26%
  • Days are longer: 19%
  • More accidents: 2%

When it comes to pandemic-related supply chain issues impacting the ability to consistently work, survey respondents were almost evenly split. A full 51% report supply chain issues affected their ability to consistently work while 49% say it did not have an impact.

“For a long time, the construction industry has been ripe for disruption. A disruption driven by the need for streamlined, digital approaches to replace outdated processes and protocols that cut into productivity and project profitability,” said David Ward, CEO, Safe Site Check In. “Our partnership with NAWIC on this year’s survey underscores what we’ve been hearing for years – digital transformation is a business imperative for the construction industry on the job site and in the office.”

Survey participants represent all areas of the construction industry across private and public sectors. Job titles and roles include: C-Suite executives (CEO, COO, CFO), vice presidents, business owners, attorneys, accounting, administration, appraisers, architects, draftsman, electricians, engineers, estimators, HVAC technicians, inspectors, interior design, HR, pipefitters, plumbers, project managers, roofers, safety officers, sales, schedulers, welders and more.

The majority of survey participants, 53%, have been working in construction for 16 or more years. This was followed by 20% of participants having five years of less work experience.

Those with 6-10 years of experience made up 17% of survey respondents while workers with 11-15 years of experience represented the remaining 10% of participants. Of the participants 52% work in the office, 44% work on jobsites and the office, and 4% work solely on job sites.

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