A new report by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has warned that the construction industry risks being marginalised and losing a generation of new talent, unless it starts to adopt innovative technology on a large scale.
The report discussed the following interesting issues:
- The technology prevalent in the construction industry, says the report, is not particularly cutting-edge. The use of innovative technology is generally limited to small pilots or trials, if it is used at all.
- It is important to consider what we mean by "innovative technology". For the past few years, discussions about this have probably focused mostly on Building Information Modelling (BIM), 3D printing and drones - and using an iPad for everything from designing a building to switching on the lights. But, the report concludes, the idea of "digital construction" is relatively vague - it inevitably means different things to different people - and this is part of the problem.
- Through a number of examples, the report seeks to demonstrate that the use of modern technology raises productivity, increases efficiency, increases profitability and helps to attract new people to the sector. But to reap these benefits, say the authors, the construction industry needs to be clear on what digital construction means, how it can be best used and what skills future employees will need in order to use it.
- It appears that embracing innovative technology essentially means focusing on the effective collection, communication and management of data. To do this, the report concludes, requires new cultures and new ways of working within construction firms, driven from the top by digital change leaders and supported by broader skills and competencies - problem solving, digital awareness - at various levels of each organisation.
The report argues that it is time for the construction industry to embrace a digital revolution. Is the industry ready for this?
Steve Radley, director of policy at CITB: “There is no question that construction needs to upskill and recruit new talent to harness the huge opportunities digital technologies present. It’s not too late, but it won’t happen without rapid action."