The Construction Industry Uses Simulators to Help Recruit a Younger Workforce

How does the construction industry attract young people who grew up playing video games? Realistic computer simulators that provide a virtual experience of operating heavy machinery is one way to recruit them.

Why Is The Construction Industry Battling To Fill Positions?

With baby boomers retiring in droves, attracting younger employees into the construction industry is becoming critical. The most experienced workers are retiring at a time when demand is high. This could mean project delays and stagnation, which could negatively affect the industry.

Veteran construction workers agree that construction has been done a great disservice by a nationwide emphasis on getting a college education and misconceptions that higher salaries only come with white collar work. Another reason for the lack of young people entering the construction industry is due to a shifting economy. As few family farms now exist, very few young people have grown up understanding the use of heavy equipment. 

The vast majority of construction companies in the U.S. are battling to fill all or some positions, according to a report released by the Associated General Contractors of America

This has a ripple effect on other industries and suppliers and shippers of construction materials are also affected. From U.S manufacturer of industrial washers, like superiorwasher.com, and steel fabricators, to trucking and freight service providers, many companies rely on consistent construction activity. For example, when construction projects are put on hold, a flat washer manufacturer receives fewer orders. 

Why Use Simulators?

Simulators can replicate the experience of operating heavy equipment in a construction environment, such as lifting steel or pushing dirt. Instead of using a mouse or keyboard, the user has pedals, a joystick, and monitors in front and behind.

A simulator in PC games, where a mouse, controller, or keyboard is used to navigate does not really communicate the physical demands of operating heavy machinery. 

An excavator simulator can be used with an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which produces a 360-degree outdoor view. Two pedals operate the tracks, and joysticks move the boom and open the bucket. 

Companies that focus on training and certification are using simulators to help teach students about those heavy machines they see on a worksite. Many of them only know that they move big things but have no idea of how they work. It’s only when they sit in the seat of a simulator and start operating it that they get the idea. 

When companies use a simulator, it means that an actual machine does not have to be taken out of operation. Using a simulator in a safe environment helps students to experience the consequence of actions and learn without destroying equipment or creating any safety risks. 

What Students Experience When They Use Simulators

Simulators recreate the real experience as closely as possible. They engage the senses, help with hand-eye coordination, and even reproduce sounds and sensations one will experience on a job site. 

Using the squeaky parts and straining engines of real-life equipment can help to indicate potential disaster or optimal performance. Real controls are situated in the right location to develop user muscle memory. 

A Final Word

Whether these simulators are persuading young people to don hardhats isn’t quite clear yet but one thing those in the construction industry agree upon is that revitalization of the sector is essential.