American Construction Companies are Facing a Major Labor Shortage. Here’s How AI Can Fix It.

Aug 2, 2019 9:34:17 PM / by Nikolay Manolov

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Once thought of as a career for those who couldn’t make it into college, skilled construction workers are in higher demand than ever before. Both a lack of youth injection and a slowing down of immigrants into the workforce mean that wages are skyrocketing and construction companies need to get their hands on quality labor, fast. Businesses are struggling to grow without the labor they need.

Not only this, but having gone through an infrastructure crisis over the last couple of decades, America has decided it’s high time to start taking tangible steps towards improving its decrepit structures, bridges and roads: Growth and spending in the industry are on the up, peaking at over $1 trillion in November 2017. On top of this, the country also faces an ever-growing demand for affordable housing, which shows no sign of abating. With this comes the need for even more manpower in the construction industry.

In an age where construction is booming but labor is disappearing, enhancing your talent acquisition strategy with AI can give you a competitive edge, shorten the hiring process, bypass human biases and errors, and make sure you’re getting the best person for the job.

Here are the three ways AI can help construction companies solve the labor shortage that’s currently plaguing the U.S.:

 

AI speeds up a large-scale recruitment process

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the quicker a prospective candidate is offered the job, the more likely they are to take it. Speed is incredibly important in giving you an edge over your competitors and getting the best candidates for the job, resulting in less turnover down the line. Integrating AI into your hiring process can help you seize applicants quickly and get them working, in some cases halving the time it takes to complete the hiring process. Chatbots can screen candidates by the thousand and answer questions immediately, even outside of normal office hours. Those looking to enter the construction industry are likely to be put off by long waits and lengthy applications. Using a chatbot instead of human recruiters saves countless hours screening resumes, contacting candidates, and getting back to them with updates and answers to queries.

Slow hiring in construction also tangibly affects the quality of your candidates. In fact, Kathy Cole, President of D.K. Cole, an executive search firm with a specialty division for construction operations and finance management positions, recently reported that the top 10% of available candidates are gone in 10 days or less, and one in four candidates apply for jobs at ten or more companies. Thus, slow hiring can result in applicants dropping out of the process, as they assume your company moves slowly in other areas too.

 

Chatbots make the recruitment process more efficient

Humans, however proficient they may be, will always make errors and be prone to bias. This is, unfortunately, unavoidable. However, AI is able to carry out tasks not only in a fraction of the time that a human would need, but also without all of the common mistakes that can be made when an employee is overtired or distracted. The AI algorithm always works to the same standard, all of the time. In fact, integrating AI into the first stages of the hiring process has proven to increase recruiter productivity by 3.7 times.

Chatbots also have the ability to increase the likelihood of people entering the construction industry, as they not only leave no questions unanswered 24/7, but it is also able re-engage past applicants from your talent pool and attract passive candidates. It can check back with former candidates by working in conjunction with your applicant tracking system, keeping your company at the forefront of potential employees’ minds.

While there is some evidence of bias entering decisions influenced by AI, this can be avoided if human recruiters monitor the process and tune the AI to eliminate bias. 56% of candidates interviewed in a recent Montage Research report said they believe AI has less potential to be biased than human recruiters. And with AI’s capability of adapting its conversation style to suit the applicant, it promises to make the initial chat as smooth as possible: 58% of candidates say they wouldn’t mind interacting with a chatbot in the first stages of the hiring process. So, with an AI enhanced talent pool free of human prejudice, construction companies can be safe in the knowledge they are attracting all of the candidates they possibly can.

 

AI helps ensure that you’re hiring the best people

Bad hires cost time and money, which is something you can’t afford if you’re facing a labor shortage and need to get people on board quickly. AI adds a predictive analytics component to your hiring process, assessing the quality of the candidate more effectively than a human. It does this by processing data about previous and current employees, and then finding correlations between best performing workers and the applicants. 

AI is also able to avoid candidate over-qualification by confirming the applicant’s skills based on concrete data points. And in the construction sector, making sure you’re getting the best people for the job is crucial, as this leads to less turnover and higher productivity later down the line.

Further, as the construction workforce is aging with many tradesmen set to retire soon, the industry needs to start attracting young people — and fast. Adding a technologically advanced component to your hiring process promises to grab the attention of young people that are deciding on their career paths.

With all this being said, it’s certainly hard to see why construction companies wouldn’t opt to swap out their old, underperforming recruitment methods for the latest power tool that promises to revolutionize your hiring process and get people joining the trades: AI. With AI, construction companies facing serious worker shortages can not only attract more candidates, but make sure that they keep applicants engaged — and ultimately, deliver new levels of quality.

Topics: Recruitment, hiring help, hiring crisis

Nikolay Manolov

Written by Nikolay Manolov

Nikolay Manolov is a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of XOR.ai, a leading chatbot and AI company that helps turbocharge recruitment and hiring efforts. Nikolay has a long history of working in the computer software industry and was first prize winner at a 2018 nationwide chatbot and AI competition in Russia.