Skilled Labor Shortage in the Construction Industry: Impacts and Solutions

The construction industry faces a pressing challenge, comparable to the care sector: a significant shortage of skilled workers. This bottleneck arises from the interplay of demographic change, lack of promotion for young talent and high turnover in the industry.


In this post, we look at the causes and consequences of the skilled labor shortage in the construction industry and present various ways in which associations, corporations and individual construction companies can deal with it for a prospective easing of the situation.

The Causes of the Skilled Labor Shortage?

The reasons for the shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry are diverse – or rather, a combination of different factors. An important aspect is undoubtedly the demographic change: a large part of the current workforce is nearing retirement age, while too few young people are pursuing training in this field. Additionally, the often extremely demanding working conditions make the profession unattractive for many.

Physical Strain and Safety Risks

Construction workers are exposed to heavy physical strain daily. Long-standing, lifting heavy loads and working in sometimes strenuous physical positions are part of the job in many fields. Additionally, construction workers are often exposed to weather conditions, further complicating their work. Despite strict safety regulations, there is a real risk of accidents on construction sites.

Lack of Recognition and Advancement Opportunities

The work in the construction industry and its importance for society and the economy are often underestimated and undervalued. Many construction workers feel inadequately recognized in their demanding and important tasks. Additionally, companies offer limited opportunities for further training and advancement, making it harder to retain skilled workers in the long term.

Increasing Complexity and Time as well as Cost Pressure

The increasing complexity of construction projects further exacerbates the skilled labor shortage. Modern construction projects often require specialized skills and deep technical understanding and successful implementation depends on the increasingly complex interplay of different trades under increasing time and cost pressure. These developments further raise the entry barriers for new workers and pose continuous further training requirements for existing skilled workers.

How Do These Problems Manifest?

The effects of the skilled labor shortage in the construction industry are far-reaching and, depending on the overall economic situation, worrying. Projects are delayed, construction costs rise and the quality of work can suffer if too few, inexperienced, or inadequately trained workers are used. In the long term, entire infrastructure projects and economic development could be at risk.

Solutions and Ideas

To counteract the shortage of skilled workers, several approaches need to be pursued and coordinated. These include increasing the attractiveness of the profession through more favorable working conditions and better pay, where possible. Training and career opportunities should be expanded to make the industry more attractive to younger generations and better meet the needs of the younger generation.


Digitalization and Modern Technologies

Digitalization offers even more potential in the construction industry today than in many other sectors. In comparison, it is often still in its infancy in construction, especially in medium-sized companies. According to a PwC study ("The Construction Industry in Challenging Times: Geopolitics, Digitalization and Sustainability", 2023), "digitalization is not making progress," particularly in operational processes. The use of new technologies, such as BIM (Building Information Modeling), digital communication tools, new tools like drones and 3D printing, as well as software solutions for project and task management, can make work processes more efficient and safer. This simplifies existing tasks and the underlying processes. It also makes the profession more diverse and attractive – and thus contributes to reducing the skilled labor shortage in the long term.

Integration of Foreign Skilled Workers

The recruitment of skilled workers from abroad as a means to combat the skilled labor shortage has been pursued for a long time and remains part of the solution. However, intensifying this requires adjustments in the recognition of foreign professional qualifications and support in integrating into the labor market. Software can also help ensure smooth operations on the construction site, for example, in communication in different languages through translation tools.

Improving Actual Working Conditions

Better working conditions are essential to retain skilled workers in the industry and attract new ones. This goes beyond appropriate pay and safety measures. In the future, more attention should be paid to creating a pleasant working atmosphere, providing training opportunities and, last but not least, recognizing the construction profession in and by society.

What Can We Take Away for Today and the Future?

The skilled labor shortage in the construction industry is a real and serious challenge. A range of measures and the interplay of different actors are necessary to address it and make the profession more attractive to younger generations (recruitment), use modern technologies (efficiency improvement) and improve working conditions (overall attractiveness). Every actor can contribute, big and small. The more actors and all of us come together, the better the prospects for success. A driver that should not be forgotten: construction brings joy.

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