As we set our production and profit goals for Q4 and the New Year, it’s helpful to take other industry leaders’ perspectives into account. In a recent interview with Bridget Bergin of Manufacturing.net, Brasfield & Gorrie’s Industrial Market Sector Leader Dan Parkinson had much to say about the construction industry’s employment rates, and career development in the American south.
When asked about the growth of the construction industry in the South, Parkinson says that regulatory conditions and lower expenses have drawn major developers and manufacturers to the region, Parkinson suggests that “right-to-work states, state tax incentives, and cheaper utility costs contribute to the attractiveness of southern states for manufacturing operations and new construction projects,” especially in comparison with the union-bound strongholds of the Northeast and Midwest. State officials in “South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama are offering these factors as compelling reasons” for manufacturers to relocate, which brings developers around to provide construct and expand the facilities.
Citing the findings of a report from Boston Consulting Group, Parkinson says that “the outlook for new construction activity in the manufacturing sector is positive… an increasing number of U.S. companies are “reshoring” their manufacturing operations and bringing new construction back to the U.S. from overseas.” The report says that “approximately 20% of companies with annual sales of $1 billion plan to bring their operations stateside from China this year. The executives also indicated that they expect manufacturing in the U.S. will account for nearly half of their total production over the next five years.”
While it’s true that Southern states can expect to see an influx of workers to fill these manufacturing jobs, the number of construction trades professionals necessary to getting the work done may be lagging. According to Parkinson, “It is imperative that the construction industry connect with the next generation of workers by the time they enter high school, if not sooner.” One reason this hasn’t happened, Parkinson says, is that “the construction industry is challenged by an unflattering perception that our jobs are backbreaking and require non-skilled labor,” In reality, “today’s construction jobs rely greatly on technology, and incorporate the use of computers, smart phones, tablets, industry-specific software, lasers, drones, 3D modeling, GPS, and electronic blueprints, from start to finish,” as well as advanced math and science and technical training.
One unique benefit that today’s young workers bring to the workforce is an unabashed engagement with technology. “Our industry can benefit from the generation of workers who have grown up playing video games and understanding technology applications,” Parkinson says, “for example, the hand to eye coordination that many people have developed while playing video games may complement positions that require dexterity, such as mobile crane operators.”