Design and Construction, Fire Safety, Human Resources, Maintenance and Operations, Training

NFPA Survey: 80% of Skilled Trade Workers Rely on Digital Tools Daily

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released survey results collected from over 330 industry professionals at the NFPA 2023 Conference & Expo. The research findings reveal insights around trends and attitudes on digital transformation, training, and educational programs. Respondents represent the electrical, manufacturing, construction, engineering, architect/design, facility maintenance, fire service, and insurance/risk management fields.

Digital Transformation Is Improving Collaboration and Workflow for the Skilled Trades

Eight in 10 respondents (80%) reported using digital tools on the job every day, with 43% using one to two tools daily, 26% using three to five, and 11% using more than five tools. For those leveraging digital solutions, the benefits are integral to the job: 24% cited computers, tablets, phones, or NFPA LiNK as technologies and tools they can’t live without.

When asked to identify obstacles within the design and build process, 29% of respondents cited collaboration (up from 22% in the NFPA 2023 Industry Trends Survey) as a top challenge, while 23% cited access to resources. Luckily, the value provided by digital tools is helping address top industry challenges, as 61% saw increased collaboration and streamlined processes as a result of implementing digital tools into their workflows.

However, there is still room for improvement in terms of integrating technology into daily job functions, with one-third of respondents admitting they have not implemented digital tools in their daily workflows. Moreover, 42% report they are spending less on new tools, including digital ones, as a result of economic uncertainty.

Employees Are Training Several Times Per Year, Empowered by Digital Offerings

Sixty-six percent of respondents said their organizations offer training and development programs to employees at least twice a year, while 54% of respondents reported participating in at least two training sessions per year.

Where trainings are offered, live or on-demand virtual formats are the most popular (66%), followed by onsite sessions (31%). Respondents listed the following as top benefits of digital-first training:

  • 86% strongly agreed or agreed utilizing digital tools makes training easier
  • 87% strongly agreed or agreed utilizing digital tools saves time while training
  • 83% strongly agreed or agreed conducting trainings with digital tools helps streamline the process

The implementation of training still faces barriers. More than one-fourth (26%) of respondents reported they are reducing budget allocated to training and development. Additionally, respondents noted a lack of time to participate in training (67%), inaccessible pricing (53%) and trouble determining the right program (46%) as top challenges for training and development.

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