Construction and coronavirus: industry 1 year later

It has now been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, creating a shock wave that has affected all facets of life. How we buy, how we play, and how we work have all felt the effects of physical distancing, masking, and other new health and safety protocols.

All industries have been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another. Foodservice, entertainment and hospitality businesses have been devastated by the lack of in-person activities, while other areas such as shipping and IT are more important than ever.

So, a year later, how did the construction industry fare?

All things considered, the construction world remains relatively strong. As the pandemic has slowed down some projects and led to new processes, the industry continues to work hard and create new buildings and infrastructure. Like the people who make up the construction workforce, the industry is resilient and is on the road to recovery.

What changed?

COVID-19 has certainly changed the look and feel of many aspects of construction. Here are some of the main ways the industry has had to adapt as a result of the pandemic.

New security considerations

Safety is an important value in construction. The ultimate goal is for everyone to be home safely at the end of the day. This is why safety is always among the first modules taught in NCCER Craft Program.

This was the mindset before COVID-19 arrived, but the virus has added new considerations to the security protocol.

Safety issues have often revolved around potential hazards on the job site, such as slippery surfaces or unsecured materials. Now another kind of danger exists in the form of a microscopic virus. But just like other types of potential problems, preparedness, awareness, and follow-up procedures go a long way in preventing incidents – in this case, the spread of the virus.

Fortunately, professionals in the craft industry have long been familiar with wearing personal protective equipment. Masks have joined helmets, gloves and safety glasses among the PPE pieces required.

New points on training

Vocational and technical education (CTE) and craft training have traditionally been a little different from the middle class, especially due to the practical nature of learning and teaching.

With the pandemic forcing the closure of schools and learning centers, education moved mainly online. Instructors and students of all subjects had to face difficulties in adjusting to this change, but for craft training it proved particularly difficult. Without in-person classroom sessions, the practicality of learning construction skills was difficult to replicate.

Like everyone else, however, construction education has found a way to adapt. Wearing masks, rotating time slots in the workshop, more secure store layouts and other creative solutions have helped training programs continue their mission.

Educational organizations have also focused on providing new or expanded resources and services to schools and programs. NCCER online Test system provided a secure platform for virtual testing, while remote monitoring helped to ensure the integrity of the tests. In addition, NCCER and Pearson have worked to expand and improve the online learning resources available through NCCERconnect.

Staggered project schedule

While construction remains in progress, some aspects of it have been slowed down or changed due to the pandemic. Social distancing requirements have forced some on-site teams to reduce their numbers or stagger their schedules, while COVID-19 outbreaks may temporarily stop work. With an overall economy in bad shape, factors such as a client’s financial situation or rising material costs have also influenced both current projects and future plans.

As all parties face unique circumstances, adaptability will be important for the near future of construction. Fortunately, construction is poised to contribute to the economic recovery in the United States through its involvement in many aspects of society. For example, the pandemic has increased the demand for single-family housing, while the continued need for infrastructure development will surely be a focal point for the industry in the years to come.

New design considerations

The nature of the pandemic and the calls for social and physical distancing to prevent the spread of the virus have had an influence on the way architects and design teams design future projects, especially offices, factories and other places. where many people congregate.

When the pandemic hit, many companies found their workplaces ill-equipped to keep their employees dispersed or isolated safely, which helped many businesses transition to a work-from-home situation.

While we hope that COVID-19 will be the only pandemic of this magnitude in our lives, pandemic-proof accommodations will likely be a consideration for any business looking to build a new space or renovate their current space. Modular or adaptable offices with removable partitions, advanced air filtration systems, surfaces that limit the transmission of bacteria and viruses, workspaces to visit remote employees and other features could become elements keys to future designs.

What has stayed the same?

While construction has certainly changed and evolved in some ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some aspects or situations have remained the same or very similar to before the outbreak.

The demand for skilled crafts professionals

The construction industry has faced a labor shortage and a strong demand for trained and skilled crafts professionals for many years. This has been one of the biggest threats to the industry’s long-term health and stability, and it continues to be significant.

The issue of workforce development is not just a here and now issue. What will the workforce look like in a few years?

A number of factors contribute to the shortage of skilled labor. One of them is the aging construction workforce. The average age of a crafts professional is between 48 and 52, and many experienced workers in the industry are nearing retirement or have already done so – a process accelerated by the health crisis. Along with an increasing number of people leaving the industry, there are not enough new young professionals joining the construction industry. Long-held misconceptions and stereotypes about the industry cause students and their parents not to pursue a career in construction, while the pervasive idea that a four-year college degree is the key to success leads students move into college and away from trade schools, training programs and apprenticeships.

As we emerge on the other side of the pandemic, investing in the future of the workforce is more important than ever. The industry must take steps to improve its image and recruit the next generation of construction, as well as provide them with training and standardized credentials such as those available through NCCER.

Construction is an essential industry – and always has been

In many ways, the pandemic has revealed which aspects of the economy are most critical. These “essential businesses” are the ones the company simply could not afford to put on hold while many others were shutting down.

In most parts of the country, construction was one of those industries deemed essential. This status not only allowed crafts professionals to keep working and projects moving forward, but it also affirmed the importance of the construction sector and highlighted its connection to many different aspects of the modern world.

Take into account impact of construction on the direct fight against the pandemic. The teams worked on an accelerated schedule to complete hospitals and emergency rooms in progress, as well as converting places like convention centers into temporary medical facilities which could accommodate more patients as existing hospitals reach capacity. Infrastructure such as power grids, water systems and road networks constructed and maintained by the construction sector were integral to the provision of utilities, resources and supplies to health care providers.

While the designation of being essential may have been another official industry award, the truth is that construction has always been essential. Almost everything in the economy begins with construction: roads, utilities, homes, commercial buildings, industrial buildings, schools, medical facilities – All require construction. Construction is one of the most important industries in the world and the skilled craftspeople who run it are an integral part of everyday life like any other profession.

Construction goes ahead

The past year has been one of the unprecedented challenges. While vaccinations and other resources will hopefully soon return us to relative normality, the impact of COVID-19 will continue to be felt around the world for a long time to come.

While the construction sector was not spared from the problems caused by the pandemic, it has continued to operate and adapt to new situations as well as to any other industry. In the future, construction will take further steps towards recovery while shifting its focus to other areas of focus such as workforce development. The future remains full of opportunities.


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