CEO Mitch Hughes was recently quoted in an article in CONSTRUCTION DIVE, Tech, Stability May Move Gen Z Through The Trades Pipeline, by Robyn Griggs Lawrence. Earlier this year, COVID-19 disrupted a number of plans and campaigns which Associated General Contractors of California had planned. In-person recruiting at high schools had to be replaced by Instagram Live and other online options. Construction firms and electrical contractors had to convert training programs and apprenticeships into WebEx and Zoom classes.
Industry experts say it's important to keep the pipeline of young workers open during the crisis. Even though unemployment is at historic levels, enhanced unemployment benefits and workers’ fear of contracting COVID-19 on jobsites are making it tougher to fill positions. As contractors know all too well, a lack of interest in construction work has reached crisis levels in recent years as high school guidance counselors have pushed students toward college and technologically savvy younger generations have rejected manual labor and harsh outdoor work environment.
“COVID made it very clear that we have to run our lives efficiently in virtual ways because every company is moving that way as rapidly as they can move,” said Mitch Hughes, CEO of VIZZ, a property technology company that recently released a digital twins program that provides virtual duplications of physical objects and environments for training and testing of new and potential hires on facilities and equipment from anywhere in the world. With digital twins, trainers can respond in real time as trainees twist nuts and connect wires on the virtual platform before they go out into the field.
Hughes, who owned an engineering firm and a commercial construction company until 2016, said the difficulty he had finding labor is a major reason he jumped ship to the technology side of the industry.