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Why construction productivity lags other sectors of the economy

Construction is an essential sector of the economy, responsible for building and maintaining the physical infrastructure that underpins our society. However, it’s no secret that construction productivity lags behind other sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing and information technology. So why is this the case?

One of the main reasons for the productivity gap is the unique nature of the construction industry. Unlike other sectors, construction projects are often one-off, bespoke endeavors, making it challenging to achieve the economies of scale that are typical of manufacturing or technology. Each project requires a different set of skills, tools, and materials, which can be costly and time-consuming to source and manage. This leads to a lack of standardization and efficiency, which can hinder productivity.

Another factor that contributes to low productivity in construction is the reliance on manual labor. Despite the increasing use of technology and automation, much of the work in construction still relies on physical labor, which is subject to human limitations and the potential for errors. This can result in delays, rework, and additional costs, all of which impact productivity.

Moreover, the construction industry faces challenges in terms of supply chain management and workforce development. The industry relies heavily on a complex network of suppliers, subcontractors, and laborers, all of whom must be coordinated and managed effectively. This can be difficult, particularly in light of the current labor shortage and skills gap in the industry.

To address these challenges, the construction industry needs to embrace innovation and new technologies to improve efficiency, standardize processes, and reduce waste. There is also a need to invest in workforce development and training to upskill the existing workforce and attract new talent to the industry.

In conclusion, the construction industry faces unique challenges that make it challenging to achieve the productivity gains that are typical of other sectors. However, with the right investments in technology, training, and process improvement, the industry can overcome these challenges and continue to build the infrastructure that our society relies on.

Maybe you didn’t notice. But if the above doesn’t sound like me and my writing, it’s because today’s blog post is brought to you by ChatGPT (AI). The prompt I used was, “write a short blog post about why construction productivity lags other sectors of the economy.”

On some level, it’s unsettling that AI can now, almost instantaneously, spit out a blog post like this. It would now be pretty easy to set up a daily blog, like this one here, and use ChatGPT to populate it each day.

But of course, while that might be interesting initially, it would quickly become a banal baseline. Anyone and everyone could copy what you’re doing. AI is going to change a lot. But our jobs remain the same: find new ways to create value and be remarkable.


  1. Colleen

    Yes, your voice is so original, thanks for doing the hard work.
    Robots recycle used ideas so maybe your own creative thoughts will get plucked by ChatGPT for someone else’s question.


  2. David Supple

    interesting twist.

    AI missed the primary and overarching issue with our industry, which is the segregated way it is set up and the lack of accountability from design to construction. This is trained into the industry – think schools with CM and architecture programs kept totally separate. Tech does not handle that. Its why you see large tech companies like Apple and Tesla, set up as by and large a single source of accountability for their products.


  3. Pingback: A template for opposing new housing – BRANDON DONNELLY

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