market trends & overcoming labor shortages
Building Design Construction, the U.S. data center market is expected to increase from $20.21B in 2022 to $28.56B in 2028 (+$8.35B in 6 years). We have a massive number of buildings to put up in the next few years, and electrical industry professionals are critical to support this growth. One glaring challenge standing in the path of rapid growth is a shortage of available electrician labor. In the analysis of their annual Workforce Survey, Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) reports that 68% of respondents say their job applicants lack the skills to work in construction. This is not to say that they cannot be trained long-term, but they cannot fully contribute if hired today.
How are we going to achieve this growth if there are not enough electricians available? This question may not be answered for quite some time, but I do know that the demand for increased data storage will not pause for us to figure it out. As these data center projects arise, we must work together to produce game plans long before the construction begins.
Assembling the right TEAM
data center project is going to need to start with a well-assembled team. To choose the right teammates, contractors need to define what they are looking for in a wholesale distributor, manufacturer's representative, and manufacturer partners. If each party can honestly communicate their needs with one another and work earnestly together, the relationship is off to a great start.
Distributors should be prepared to host frequent meetings to check in on the project's progress and success. To accommodate the uncommon needs that mega-projects of this size and timeline often require, distributors should prepare to think outside the box to overcome hurdles. The whole organization needs to be committed to the contractor regarding this job, and stakeholders from each department should be included in the discussion.
The manufacturer's representatives and manufacturer's commitments to the project are also critical. Often, the timing on these jobs does not go according to plan, so having a dedicated manufacturer's representative in the field to respond quickly to the needs of the project is invaluable. A manufacturer should prepare to service last-minute changes and issues like when goods are damaged on-site or in-transit. When things do not go according to plan, it is more fun to be the
hero in a time of crisis than to explain why your chosen team cannot deliver for the project.
Manufacturers should also come to the table with innovative solutions to contractor challenges. We've found that products like the
Reel Payoff ® or the Cyclone Barrel Pack ® have helped reduce the need for labor and have improved safety on many job-sites. The magic is in listening to your customer's needs and responding appropriately.
The importance of choosing the right partners for mega-projects like data centers cannot be overstated. Flexibility, nimbleness, willingness to help, product selection (see infographic below) and availability are just a few things to consider when building your team at the outset of your project.