Digital tools become integral for 80 percent of skilled trade workers, NFPA survey reveals

October 3, 2023
Digital Fire Tool

A recent survey by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sheds light on the ever-growing adoption of digital tools in the skilled trade sectors.

Conducted during the NFPA 2023 Conference & Expo, the research gathered responses from over 330 industry professionals, unveiling attitudes and trends on digital transformation, training, and educational programs.

Digital tools enhance collaboration and efficiency

According to the findings, 80 percent of respondents use digital tools in their daily work.

Specifically, 43 percent use one to two tools daily, 26 percent operate between three to five, and 11 percent employ more than five tools.

Tools such as computers, tablets, phones, or NFPA LiNK have become indispensable for 24 percent of those surveyed.

Collaboration, having increased from 22 percent in the NFPA 2023 Industry Trends Survey, was pointed out by 29 percent of participants as a primary hurdle in the design and build process.

Meanwhile, 23 percent emphasized the difficulty in accessing resources.

Yet, digital tools are addressing these industry challenges.

A majority, 61 percent, noted enhanced collaboration and smoother processes after integrating digital tools into their routines.

Nevertheless, the road to complete digital adoption isn’t without its bumps.

One-third of respondents haven’t introduced digital tools into their daily tasks. Economic uncertainties have led 42 percent to cut back on new tool expenditures, including digital ones.

Frequent training empowered by digital tools

When it comes to training, 66 percent of organizations provide development programs for their employees at least biannually.

Additionally, 54 percent partake in a minimum of two training sessions every year.

Digital-first training formats, whether live or on-demand virtual, dominate with a 66 percent preference.

Onsite sessions trail behind at 31 percent.

The survey highlighted the perceived benefits of training with digital tools:

  • 86 percent either strongly agreed or agreed that digital tools simplify training.
  • 87 percent felt these tools save time during training sessions.
  • 83 percent found that such tools expedite the training process.

However, training implementations face their own sets of challenges. A quarter (26 percent) of the respondents are slashing their training and development budgets.

The top challenges for training and development include insufficient time for training (67 percent), pricing barriers (53 percent), and difficulty in selecting the right program (46 percent).

FSJA Comment

The increasing reliance on digital tools in the skilled trade sectors isn’t just a trend—it’s a reflection of how technology is reshaping industries.

The NFPA’s recent findings highlight the value of digital tools, from facilitating collaboration to enhancing training programs.

As industries continue to evolve, understanding and addressing the challenges of digital adoption becomes crucial.

This survey offers valuable insights for companies looking to strike a balance between leveraging new technologies and navigating the inherent challenges of integration.

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