From Forest Fires To Spaceports, New Forces Bolster Construction Industry

by | Aug 22, 2018 | Business Feature

The New Face Of Construction Fuels Global Job Growth

Around the world, new construction is big business, and the industry is expected to grow 4.2% between 2018 and 2023. But what are they building? Unlike construction a few decades ago, which consisted primarily of homes and office buildings, today’s industry can credit its growth to post-disaster recovery, multigenerational home expansions, and even spaceports. One question remains, however: will there be enough construction workers to meet the need?

Diversification Is Profitable

In recent years, construction packed major cities like New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and London with high-rise apartments, shopping centers, and hospitals, making these locations too costly for most new construction. This makes suburban and mobile construction a top priority, and that’s evident in current project proposals. And those new projects are drawing big money.

Though construction is ordinarily a low-tech field and venture capital money typically allotted for tech firms, the two have recently collided, and serious VC funds are investing in construction. VC firms are eager to help digitize the growing industry, support sensor technology development, and enhance mobile computing. With VC investment backing their projects, construction could grow even faster than current predictions.

Home Front Expansion

One of the most traditional construction areas expected to expand over the next several years is multigenerational housing, with both young adults and seniors sharing homes with family members. In order to accommodate this housing shift, however, many family homes need to expand. This is fueling companies like Duncan Thompson Extensions that design and build home extensions. Homeowners want additions that match their current home design and look natural, but these add-ons also need to be accessible for older residents.

After The Disaster

Another top area for construction growth is in post-disaster regions around the world. In California, for example, where forest fires are raging, there’s an enormous need for both repairs and new construction. Unfortunately, the area lost about 20% of the construction workforce between 2005 and 2016, leaving nearly 40% of construction job postings unfilled. In order to repair and rebuild the homes and businesses that have been destroyed, California will need an influx of out of state workers or, alternatively, will have to aggressively train new construction professionals.

In addition to a lack of construction workers, there are also concerns about the cost of rebuilding in California and elsewhere in the US due to new steel tariffs. Under the Trump administration, there’s set to be a 25% increase in the cost of imported steel and a 10% increase on imported aluminum. This could cost the construction industry and related fields as many as 400,000 jobs, making post-disaster construction a costly endeavor. It may even force American construction workers to go abroad to complete similar work in less expensive areas.

High Tech Undertakings

As noted regarding the partnership of VC firms with construction companies, the construction industry is increasingly high tech. But this change goes beyond new computing and worksite sensors. Instead, individuals who previously worked on traditional construction sites, like office buildings or homes, are being ushered into new arenas, such as aerospace construction.

The UK is currently working to break into the spaceflight sector, modeling their companies on US projects – but it takes a lot of people to put a single man in space. As such, burgeoning aerospace companies like Aecom are transforming these projects into local employment opportunities. Suddenly, construction workers are developing spaceports.

Like many other industry expansions, working in aerospace requires special training, but it’s a smart move for those workers who can get in on the ground floor. Similar projects are likely to appear globally in the next several years and those with the skills to work on them will have unlimited employment opportunities.

The global construction industry is primed for growth, but geopolitical tensions mean that where such growth occurs is still up for grabs. Construction workers need to prepare themselves to join an international workforce, one that reaches from suburbs and city streets all the way into space.

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