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Building Digital Skills for Construction Finance Staff 

July 14, 2023
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Construction is facing an unprecedented labor shortage. The aging workforce, a longstanding issue in the industry, was exacerbated as many older workers chose retirement during the pandemic. Now, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), businesses are struggling to find workers with relevant job skills to fill open positions.  

Supply chain complications continue to make an impact on construction firms. Eighty-two percent say they’ve had projects delayed because they can’t get materials delivered on time. The mounting costs of those materials have forced firms to raise prices for customers. Both of these factors have caused some customers to cancel or delay projects.  

Technology Transforms Finance Departments

Whether automating manual tasks or enhancing data analysis, finance leaders across the construction industry are implementing new technologies to help their teams work more efficiently and impactfully amid challenging industry conditions. In a recent AvidXchange/IOFM survey of finance professionals, 70% of respondents said investing in technology is a medium to high priority for their organization.  

Gartner says 40% of finance roles will be new or significantly reshaped by 2025 due to technology. It’s undeniable that emerging technologies like machine learning, automation and AI are changing the way we work. It’s unlikely that these tools will replace human workers. However, today’s workforce must adapt and learn new skills to maximize the potential benefits of digitization.  

The Association of General Contractors found that 87% of construction firms say their employees need to possess digital skills to be successful. When hiring new employees, some firms are prioritizing tech skills over construction industry experience.  

Employees Embrace Digitization

There’s a perception that finance workers are against the digitization of their roles. However, most of the AP professionals AvidXchange and IOFM surveyed in our 2023 AP Professional Career Satisfaction Survey are receptive to automation technology.  

Many finance professionals view automation as a way to streamline processes, reduce errors and increase efficiency. The value of digitization in AP departments may not have always been clear but given the current economic conditions, labor shortage and push for remote work, it’s time to embrace technology rather than resist it.  

Leveling Up with Upskilling

Upskilling programs are one of the most compelling ways to bridge the digital skills gap in construction. Upskilling refers to training and development opportunities that help employees expand their job-related skills and knowledge to advance their career path. These programs can take many forms, including online courses, in-person training and on-the-job learning. By investing in upskilling programs, organizations can help their employees develop the skills they need to succeed in a digitized workplace.  

Employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from upskilling programs. Investing in these educational initiatives ultimately benefits the broader organization by increasing productivity, improving employee engagement and driving innovation.  

Employees who receive training are better equipped to take on new challenges and are more likely to stay with the organization long-term. Additionally, upskilling programs can help organizations identify new opportunities and ways to streamline operations, leading to business growth without additional headcount.  

Most importantly, employees want it. Upskilling is becoming a sought-after benefit. Our recent AvidXchange, IOFM survey found that 84% of AP professionals said learning/skills development is “moderately” or “extremely” important when evaluating a new job opportunity. Nearly 60% of respondents have been working in AP for 10+ years proving that even tenured staff are interested in continuous professional improvement.   

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