Better Construction Resource Management Starts With Tracking Certifications

Aerial view of construction workers building a skeleton frame with steel columns.

If you work in construction workforce management, you’ve thought about your labor pool. But have you thought about the labor pool within your labor pool? 

The labor pool within your labor pool is a shifting group of tradespeople with the skills and certifications that line up with the specific requirements of an upcoming project. They are all the people you might have in your company right now and not even know it. 

The focus for every job site is on the labor mix. In a recent survey from The USG and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, nearly half of contractors (49%) were highly concerned that they had the workers with “adequate skill levels.” You need the right collection of workers; but labor forecasting that only accounts for titles and classifications misses a valuable piece to running a lean operation: tracking certifications. 

When you have a grasp on the specific safety and operator certifications of every worker, you’ll understand exactly how your workforce aligns with existing and future projects.

Image of a statistic stating, "49% of contractors are highly concerned that they have workers with adequate skill levels."

Proper Labor Tracking 

Let’s say you’ve just won a big job that’s going to require you to staff up quickly. If you use union trades, you reach out to the local union hall. If you’re an open shop, you might have a shared labor pool with other contractors or put out a call for work. 

The labor management challenge starts when your new workers begin to arrive onsite. Contractors rely on classifications as a shorthand for the skill sets of its workforce. While titles may tell you about a laborer’s skill level; they don’t provide specific information about a worker’s certifications. 

If an individual has a master license in several states, you need labor tracking software that can record that information. Because certifications, while critical for the current project, also provide the building pieces for those pools of labor that can be called upon the future. 

Certification Certainty 

Now, you’ve got that project going and an electrician who is certified as a lift operator. But that certification only lasts for a year and it’s set to expire in 90 days. Since this is a big job, you have 400 electricians with expiration dates that are all over the calendar. 

Accurate workforce forecasting doesn’t stop with noting certifications in construction resource management software. Certifications expire and some require continuing education. If you don’t have an accurate labor tracking app or labor forecasting tool, you’re going to miss some of those deadlines. That can prove costly in two significant ways. 

First, you’ve likely invested in certification or training, and that lapsed certification means you have labor that can’t work on a lift which could impact your field productivity. The bigger cost is liability exposure. Construction resource management is about risk reduction. It’s not a big deal to get a certification renewed. It is a big deal if you have people operating equipment without the proper certification. 

Multiple construction workers on site building with rebar.

Activating The Labor Pool You’ve Built 

Investing in workforce tracking software can pay some very real dividends when you start to take on bigger projects with distinct requirements. Utilities and factories often require additional certification for contractors to work onsite. Contractors that work in chemical plants or utility plants may need federal background checks. Factories or food processing plants might have specific on-site safety programs. 

Some of your existing labor will qualify based on the certification information you’ve been logging; but many will undergo training at the start of a job. While there’s some benefit before the job starts in prequalifying your labor, there’s an additional, likely bigger, opportunity after the work has ended. 

After you’ve gone through the process of getting people certified, the job at that chemical plant scales down after three months. You move people to other jobs. Six months go by and you get a call. There’s more work at the chemical plant. 

This is where resource planning and labor tracking software helps you identify the exact labor pool that you need. You’ll have all the information on certifications and know who was previously onsite. You can move labor more efficiently and improve your field productivity.   

Start tracking certifications. Discover the labor pool within your labor pool because it lets you do what you do best, which is win the work and do the work. 

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Sr. Workforce Advisor
Gary Fuchs is a Senior Workforce Advisor at LaborChart. Prior to LaborChart, Gary was VP of Construction at Westphal Electric. He and his wife Cheryl are proud parents of three daughters and 10 grandchildren. Gary enjoys woodworking, golf, hunting, fishing, and working with LaborChart. In his past, Gary was a volunteer firefighter and basketball official.

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