68 percent of skilled trade workers feel a desire to work with innovative, non-traditional tools, NFPA survey finds

December 13, 2022 – The National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) today released its 2023 Industry Trends Survey, which reveals insights around employee sentiment on training and labor shortages, use of technology on the job site and how technology supports their top priorities.

As industry hiring lags, skilled trade workers emphasize training

Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) said a shortage of qualified workers would be their biggest challenge at work in 2023. Additionally, 42 percent said they anticipate their budgets will focus on increased hiring to replace or add jobs in 2023.

“In 2023, we anticipate hiring and retention to remain a top priority across workforces, but especially in the skilled trade industry,” said Kyle Spencer, Director of NFPA LiNK®. “These insights directly from men and women on the job emphasize the need for accessible training among teams struggling to maintain a full staff.”

Closely following concerns around a hiring shortage, 42 percent of respondents cited lack of knowledge sharing and collaboration as their top challenge, while 32 percent said codes and standards requirements continuously evolving would be their greatest challenge in the new year.

Skilled trade workers utilize technology on the jobsite, but there’s room for improvement

Thirty-two percent of respondents are currently utilizing technology on the jobsite on a day-to-day basis, while 22 percent utilized technology multiple times a week. With this in mind, nearly one-third (28 percent) of trade workers anticipate their organizations’ 2023 budgets will be focused on updating manual or outdated equipment.

These potential budget increases are in line with employee priorities: the survey also found that 68 percent of respondents felt a desire to work with innovative, non-traditional tools on a jobsite, while 17 percent found that the lack of job-enabling technology was one of their biggest challenges on the jobsite in 2022.

Further, 40 percent of respondents believed the biggest opportunity for technology to improve their day-to-day work on the jobsite would be for ease of communication between team members:

  • 25 percent believed it would improve accuracy and safety
  • 13 percent believed it would resolve code and inspection disputes more quickly
  • 11 percent believed it would provide quick and easy access to codes and standards
  • 10 percent believed it would give customers confidence in their organization’s ability

Technology implementation will support skilled trade workers’ top priorities on the jobsite

When asked what they most prioritize on a jobsite, 37 percent of respondents said quality of work, while 31 percent identified safety and security as top priority. To that end, 25 percent of respondents believe technology implemented in their day-to-day job functions would improve accuracy and safety.

“Safety and quality of work will always remain a top priority for managers and their teams, but the challenge ahead is acting proactively rather than reactively. Industry leaders must equip their professionals with the proper tools to improve their day-to-day job functions, enabling the next generation of employees to pave the industry’s path forward,” said Spencer.

For this release and other announcements about NFPA initiatives, research, and resources, please visit NFPA press room.

Survey Methodology

NFPA collected responses from 330 U.S.-based workers, 18-years and older in the electrical, manufacturing, construction, engineering, architect/design, facility maintenance, fire service, and insurance/risk management fields, via a third-party provider to determine findings of its 2023 Industry Trends Survey. The survey was conducted between October 20, 2022 – November 4, 2022.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, self-funded, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach, and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275