In a 2017 report, the Washington State Auditor found that employers in the skilled trades are having difficulty finding enough workers. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 70% of construction companies are having difficulty finding workers for their jobs. And the US Department of Education reports that there will be 68% more job openings in infrastructure-related fields than there are people training to fill them.
This lack of skilled workers in the trades already has a long history, and it's unlikely to change anytime soon. In fact, the situation is probably going to get worse, as more of the experienced workers start to retire. The absence of these seasoned professionals from the job market means employers will have to prepare to lose some of the most dependable, knowledgeable workers they have. Worse, for every 100 people retiring from a skilled trade, as few as 14 replacements are joining the workforce.
It's clear that a shortage of workers will be an ongoing challenge for any employer in the skilled trades industry. If you're finding yourself consistently short-handed, there are going to be projects your company is not able to attend to - and customers that you must decline. Each project you pass up leaves money on the table for your competition. A shortage of workers can also lead to costly delays on projects. And too many projects and too few employees in the skilled trades means scheduling problems.
As many as 80% of businesses in the skilled trades continue to operate their businesses manually. Increasing these challenges, many businesses in the skilled trades continue to operate their business manually - handwritten invoicing, work orders, and scheduling. Manual record-keeping is time-consuming, mentally draining, and often inaccurate, and doesn’t help when you're planning how best to use your sometimes-too-few skilled trades-persons. Trying to keep track of rapidly changing timetables and deadlines on a traditional handwritten system, like a whiteboard or Excel spreadsheet, leads to missed opportunities, upset customers, or under-utilized employees, all of which impacts the business' bottom line.
Of those employers in the skilled trades sector who are using some sort of computerized tracking, it's often using outdated software on older computers - a combination that isn't known for it's speed. These disconnected software packages often use separate, disconnected systems for invoicing, dispatching and work orders, which can?increase?the complexity, or even require separate staff or special training to operate. As the numbers of opportunities in the skilled trades increases, and the numbers of workers available only goes down, these methods just aren't going to be able to keep up.
Modern Field Service Software solutions can help with employee shortages
Fortunately, like many problems, this shortage of workers and the inefficient computer systems of the past can be leveraged into a opportunity. Smart companies can use a modern field service software solution to handle their employee shortages, scheduling problems, and inter-system communication. Cloud-based software can be fast and easy to use, and software solutions now exist that are designed and customized specifically for the skilled trades industry. Trades companies leveraging this software to help automate their businesses can use it to enable them to grow alongside the increasing demand for their services.
Optimally, such a solution would be customized to fit your business, your workflow, and the strengths of your workforce. The right solution would include workflow automation, document generation, smart analytics, and a digital assistant. Using modern field service software optimized for speed and efficiency, your business would gain responsiveness, you would be able to track your business more effectively, and your workflow management would become seamless. In the best case, such a solution would be flexible enough to work with existing manual procedures, to avoid disruptions to day to day work-flow.
Skilled Trade Companies that have invested Smart Field Service Software will have an advantage
There are companies already using this type of solution, and it's already giving them a performance edge. Using software designed with the challenges of today and tomorrow in mind, these business owners control their whole business in one fast, easy-to-use software package. Companies that have invested in this kind of software are going to be at an advantage against those companies who haven't. And with more and more companies incorporating this type of software solution, the companies that aren't using it are going to find themselves left behind.
While the old school practices of Excel spreadsheets and whiteboards have allowed business owners to run successful businesses in the past, the fast changing landscape of the Skilled Trades industry are quickly making those practices obsolete. Business owners that are clinging to the past, will simply not be able to survive looming workforce shortages. Embracing a modern and efficient software solution to assist with fleet management, document generation and client relations is the most effective way to survive.
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