The construction industry is dynamic — ever changing and evolving through technology. The way contractors work today is clearly much different than 50 years ago — or 20 years — or even five years ago writes Jeff Winke. The big difference is due to advances in technology in the machines and tools that enable greater productivity, reduce time, and provide better results.
There’s a great John F. Kennedy quote that captures the essence of the construction world: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Successful contractors and construction workers recognize that they must take control of their future or risk being left behind. This spirit of paying attention and taking control of the future plays into the notion of being prepared with the right knowledge and skills.
“Technology in earthmoving and site work changes too frequently to be ignored,” states Ron Oberlander, senior director, Professional Services for Topcon Positioning Group. “Contractors must continually seek out new information, learn from others, and take advantage of training opportunities as often as they can to remain competitive.”
Successful construction contractors view training as a necessary and beneficial investment in their business and point to numerous reasons why the investment is worthwhile:
- Improves safety – Contractors acknowledge that the safety of their workers is critical. The right training can ensure that the equipment is operated correctly and that health and safety practices are being followed in the workplace.
- Improves productivity – It makes sense and is proven that well-trained employees are more confident in their abilities to perform their work. The right training gives workers the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their work to the best of their ability, thus increasing productivity and quality of the results.
- Keeps current with technology – The pace of technology changes and advancements in construction come fast and furious. Regular training means the business and employees don’t get left behind and they stay working at their best, both today and in the future.
- Attracts and retain key employees – In today’s market, contractors cannot afford to hire or carry workers who are not super competent or are firmly on a path to proficiency. Training and development programs not only attract, but they can engage current employees and keep them committed to the company.
- Gives company and workers the edge – Training employees can provide a genuine competitive advantage over competition. The only way to be better than competitors is by employees being better than the rest and training is a direct route to achieving this.
“The key attributes of good training are that it is repeatable, consistent, and offered frequently so workers can commit to learning regularly,” Oberlander said. “Both managers and workers will never know everything about the products and systems they use; so, training helps everyone be smarter and more productive. I tell the people we train that if you feel you are pretty productive now, you’ll be even more productive after training.”
To be effective, training needs to be concise and specific to a contractor’s needs. Construction contractors and professional surveyors are extremely busy and do not have the time or patience for superfluous information.
One of the benefits of good training is to teach learners how to be resourceful and effective after the trainer is gone. Knowing when, how, and where to go for help can reinforce the content and skills acquired during training.
“To ensure our products and systems are fully used after training, we’ve created two helpful resources—a global Professional Services team and a myTopcon support and training site,” said Oberlander. “Our markets are diverse, but they share a common necessity of highly precise measurements, increased automation and workflow solutions to improve their productivity. These resources are designed to provide solutions and workflow assistance to ensure the highest efficiency for our customers and help them to expand their businesses by applying these skills and technologies into new applications.”
The Topcon Professional Services team has been created to integrate training, customer support, and sales support into a single resource intended to help its customers adopt and apply new technologies as they emerge. The Professional Services team includes more than 40 applications experts from the surveying, construction, civil engineering, networking and mapping fields. These experts are located around the world to support the company’s global market.
The myTopcon site is designed to provide direct access to online training, firmware and software updates, and reference resources at a mobile-adapted site that can be accessed from the field.
Again, the intent of both the Professional Services team and the myTopcon site is to extend and support the information and content as well as new skills acquired during training. Clearly, as the labor market continues to tighten, and as more and more baby boomers head into retirement, construction companies will need to sharpen their recruiting, hiring, and training capabilities. Younger millennial and Generation X workers expect more than their older counterparts ever did, but in exchange they bring an acceptance, expectation, and appreciation of the role technology is playing in construction today.
By being committed to ongoing training, a construction firm can build a sense of connection, which can help create the positive environment where employees are willing to go above and beyond to help fuel organizational success.
As John F. Kennedy pointed out — change is the law of life — and clearly, the investment in training can keep a construction company fresh, up-to-date, and better prepared to adapt and succeed in the face of change.
Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wis. He can be reached through [email protected]