Bringing MEP Skills Back to Schools (pt. 4)
Written By Carol Dunn

To any contractor with an active project, the statistics around the skilled labor shortage in construction are sobering.

  • Over three-quarters of construction companies can’t find enough workers for the jobs they have.
  • Due to a lack of workers, nearly half of firms are experiencing rising costs and schedule overruns.
  • About a quarter of the aging workforce is planning to retire by 2030, and the “art” of their trades will leave with them.

There are a couple ways contractors can combat the pressures brought on by this labor shortage. According to Brett Stacks, eVolve MEP Director of MEP Fabrication, they can equip themselves for the most efficient future possible through:

  • Better software (OUT with the old AutoCAD-based workflows and IN with Revit).
  • Artificial intelligence for automating processes.
  • Training for companies and workers.

Training students in the art of the trades has essentially fallen by the wayside at schools nationwide. Recognizing the skilled labor consequences of that, Autodesk, FARO and eVolve MEP have undertaken a collaborative effort to turn the trend around, as described by Brett Stacks in the recent Bridging the Gap Podcast, “How the MEP Industry is Turning Into a Family.” The group is trying collectively to move the MEP trades in a positive direction. One of the goals of the collaborative effort is to encourage trade organizations away from training incoming workers on AutoCAD and toward training them building information modeling in Revit.

The major trade organizations are working to supply technology to educational facilities, as well as basic knowledge about trades to guidance counselors. Members participate annually in the SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference. They will also be represented at the American School Counselors Assn annual conference in Seattle, WA. They will take part in MEP Force 2020 in August, where MEP trades learn from peers and get a real-world perspective during a true user conference led by the users.

As part of the Autodesk Design Academy program, students and teachers can access Autodesk software at no charge plus free educational resources in construction. Online courses, curriculum, webinars, tutorials, projects, and contests are part of this outreach. Educator resources include lesson plans, projects, and datasets. There is even a curriculum called Tinkercad for teachers and younger students.

To generate student interest, Faro offers ways to introduce its products in education and give students hands-on experience with latest 3D measurement technology. The FARO stance is that teaching students the concepts and applications of measuring arms, laser trackers and laser scanners will give them a competitive edge when they move into industry. Two case studies that may bolster that interest are: “3D Documentation of a ‘Vanishing’ Civilization,” and “Modern Day Sherlock Holmes.”  

As Stacks points out, the collaborators want to demonstrate the many types of career paths that are offered around the trades, so high-schoolers will be more apt to be interested in trade programs. It is being suggested that everyone in the industry – not just the technology providers – step up and be a part of the initiative that’s taking the trades back to schools. As Stacks explains, any contractor can offer to be a guest speaker at a school and explain the many facets of their particular trade. The first step to student interest is understanding, and the Autodesk-FARO-eVolve MEP collaborative effort is encouraging them to put the first foot forward.  

This is the fourth installment in the eVolve MEP blog series Overcoming the Skilled Labor Shortage. Check out the others at:

  1. Help Wanted: Dirty, Difficult, Dead-end Job;”
  2. How You Can Develop the Skilled Labor You Need Inhouse;”
  3. Using Technology to Overcome the Labor Shortage.” 

The experts at eVolve MEP have worked in the trades, so they know the challenges you face. Because of their experience, the development of eVolve Electrical and eVolve Mechanical meets your industry’s needs. Users who compare eVolve MEP to previous tools report an astounding 25% improvement in profitability. Want to improve your bottom line? Contact the experts of eVolve MEP today and learn how they can help you overcome the skilled labor shortage.

Series Navigation<< Using Technology to Overcome the Labor Shortage Pt. 3What 7 Trade Organizations Are Doing to Recruit Talent >>

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