Project Management Is Changing the Face of Construction
Diversity within the construction industry is seeing something of a renaissance, and it’s owed almost entirely to the rise of project management roles, opportunities and training programs. They have served as a general gateway into the industry for many, including minorities like women and veterans.
In fact, by the close of 2020, more than 50 percent of all businesses entering the industry will be either minority- or female-owned. Millennials have also helped move this trend in
to the fold what with their inherently diverse makeup.
As more diverse groups come of age, various industries have worked to improve and adapt their hiring processes to establish better, more well-rounded practices. The Associated General Contractors of America, for example, deployed their Diversity and Inclusion Council — representing more than 26,000 firms in the industry — to communicate, network and share ideas.
Project Management: A Change for the Better
As society changed, technologies evolved and priorities shifted, so have the inner workings of many industries, including construction. Coupled with a labor shortage, it has helped the industry as a whole readjust hiring priorities and protocols. It’s not that discrimination as a whole doesn’t exist — but organizations are less likely to avoid hiring specific demographics.
Today, approximately 9.1 percent of the construction workforce is comprised of women. But slinging around numbers doesn’t make a difference — it doesn’t explain much about the current state of the industry, outside of its human composition.
How are companies and organizations working to improve this element of
their industry, and what is happening to help minorities grow in ranks?
For starters, several platforms have appeared that aim to train or onboard the inexperienced. PlanGrid, for example, is available in Spanish, allowing workers to review important documents and materials in their native language. Construction productivity software and planning tools are starting to incorporate such requirements to improve accessibility.
The work environment itself needs to change, too. This means companies will have to employ competitive pay policies for everyone, eliminate wage gaps, establish cultural career development paths, enforce diverse inclusion policies, embrace multiple languages and develop official communities or channels for various ethnicities. A support community for Hispanic workers or women in the industry can help produce systems of mentorship, guidance and assistance from experienced professionals.
Veterans also remain a relatively untapped workforce segment that could prove incredibly skilled in the construction industry. It’s predicted that industry employment will grow by 13% this decade, but only 6 percent of veterans end up working in construction. What makes the low percentage such a shame is that they often already have the necessary skill sets and experience to do well in the industry — many of them carry over experience from their active service time.
What Does This Have to Do With Project Management?
Historically, the field of project management was not diverse. There’s also the point that for many years, the construction and development industry was relatively resistant to change. Legacy processes and strategies remained in place, and growth was not necessarily stagnant, but it didn’t thrive either.
The role of a project manager is changing considerably in the current landscape, driven primarily by the adoption of innovative technologies, development strategies and a changing workforce. As businesses hire more people of differing ethnicities, for instance, the need for multi-lingual and collaborative professionals grows, too. That solidifies the need to bring on more diversity in the space, opening up project management as a sort of gateway into the advanced channels of the industry.
You see, the project management role is all about strategic planning in the world of construction, so it requires a precise eye for design and development. Training new hires and honing their skills in this regard can help set professionals on the path to a more successful career.
This is exactly where new hires come in, specifically from demographics who have not traditionally held these roles. They not only offer fresh and innovative ideas but an incredible opportunity to boost the overall skill of the industry. With proper training at an early stage, companies can groom workers for this career path.
Along the way, they pick up the necessary experience working in the field and on-site, before they eventually are seated in a management role and take control of a small team or workforce of their own. But what of the benefits? Studies generally show that the pay of women and minorities is historically lower.
A promising detail in this regard is that the construction industry is one of the few fields where women are not grossly underpaid. On average, women in the U.S. make about 80 cents for every dollar men earn — in construction, it’s 97 cents per dollar.
It’s Not Perfect But Will Grow with Time
Of course, the industry still has its fair share of problems when it comes to welcoming vets and minorities — no field is perfect in this regard. However, continued growth means change is happening more rapidly than ever before. It won’t be long until these industries better represent our changing national makeup, not the least of which is construction and project management.
Undoubtedly, anyone armed with the will to succeed and the proper training has the opportunity to bring some fantastic ideas to the table.