In October 2018, the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) produced a new researchreport detailing a skills plan for the construction industry (“Unlocking Construction’s Digital Future: A skills plan for industry”). The report investigates the role technology could play in the construction sector.
To compile the research, the CITB conducted site visits and interviewed industry-leading experts and practitioners working in the sector including senior leadership, site managers and project managers.
The report acknowledges that the construction sector is increasingly using technology such as AR, drones and semi-automated machines. However, the report explains that “the industry is far from realising the full scale of the opportunities”.
According to the report, the industry needs to upskill its workforce to improve digital competencies across all levels, from onsite workers through to senior management.
The report identified the following barriers to increased use of technology within the sector:
- Lack of understanding of digital construction and the benefits it could offer in practice;
- Difficulty identifying which technologies could be adopted most widely in the sector, which makes it hard to focus efforts; and
- Attitudes towards technology, which see increasing spend on new technology as “being in competition with profit, risk management or health and safety imperatives.”
Responding to the research, the CITB made the following recommendations:
- The industry needs to agree common goals and a plan of action to realise ambitions for digital technologies within the sector. To this end, the CITB pledged to work with industry to agree goals and a plan of action.
- The current and future workforce needs to have the right digital skills. This will require standardised digital competency requirements to be embedded in qualifications, training and HR activities and a commitment to providing appropriate training. The CITB announced it would use its funding and influence to support industry initiatives for upskilling workers in the industry; and
- A strategy which enables the construction sector to attract and retain specialist digital roles. The CITB agreed to work with the Construction Leadership Council and other public-sector bodies to increase awareness of opportunities within the construction sector and attract new talent.
The CITB has outlined various common-sense approaches to facilitate the industry’s digital future. Nevertheless, this will still require the support of employers and key stakeholders within the sector. As the CITB acknowledges, there must be a shift in attitudes towards digital technology as the industry must be “motivated to modernise”.