In this four-part series, the Miami contractor attorneys have been discussing the future of robotics in the construction industry. In part one, we introduced the topic of robotics and explained how it can take pressure off an aging construction industry. In parts two and three, we discussed four different robots being used on project sites across the globe. We will wrap up this article with the story of Shinichi Sakamoto, one of Shimizu’s workers who is welcoming the incoming wave of robotic innovation aiming to transform the construction industry despite being a member of Japan’s aging labor force.
Help for a Shrinking Workforce
Shinichi Sakamoto, a 57-year-old construction professional employed by Shimizu, shared his concerns about the future of Japan’s construction industry with BBC News.
Sakamoto told BBC: “The thing is, statistics show a third of labourers are over 54 years old, and they are considering retiring so soon.”
And although the Japanese workforce is losing workers due to age, it is failing to replenish the deficit with young, skilled workers. “The number of labourers under 30 is just above 10 percent,” said Sakamoto.
As a result, the construction professionals that are choosing to retain their jobs need more help to work efficiently. If people aren’t going to assist construction professionals, it’s up to robots to pick up the slack.
Sakamoto believes that the solution to the nationwide labor shortage is “more and more robots on site.”
Projections and Data
Shimizu projects that Japan’s construction workforce will drop to only 2.2 million by 2025. For reference, there were 3.4 million laborers in 2014. In other words, Shimizu is expecting to lose over one-third of its workers in roughly a decade. Conversely, the market for construction robots is predicted to double, reaching a value of $420 million by 2025. This clearly indicates that construction companies are turning to robots to address the labor shortage while acting as an admission that faith in the industry’s ability to attract new workers is dwindling.
In the United States, the numbers paint a shockingly similar picture. Approximately 80 percent of general contractors reported that they were challenged when attempting to fill vacancies in their workforce. In addition, the average age of construction workers has increased by 10 years in the last decade. In other words, there’s been a net zero gain in the labor force for 10 straight years. This unprecedented suppression of the construction industry’s workforce has left contractors with very few options; either turn to robotics or continue the slow, gradual decline plaguing the industry over the last decade.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.