Arcadis recently warned that Brexit could see British construction miss out on 215,000 workers, calculating that the recruitment need is equivalent to employing one new worker every 77 seconds! This is also backed by research from RICS, which reveals that large construction projects could be at risk if the UK leaves the EU single market, as 8% of the construction workforce is from the EU accounting for 176,500 jobs in UK construction.

Could advances in technology be the answer? The UK is among the world leaders in utilising digital technology in construction. Indeed Ann Kemp of the UK BIM Alliance has said that they hope to see BIM Level 2 as ‘business as usual’ by 2020. A recent article by The Construction Manager champions technology as contributing hugely to drawing in new talent and tackling the skills crisis. In their article they say millennials are key to fixing the construction labour shortages. Going on to say new housing technologies require skills that the old guard doesn’t have and which construction companies need.

They also note that some of the less “glorified” labour jobs, such as plumbers, welders and electricians, are starting to fill out from a new generation. Those that have seen piers struggling financially following college. The new T-levels announced in the recent government budget could also draw more young people into the industry. These new technical qualifications were welcomed by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), yet they warn T-Levels must be on a par with A-Levels if the government is to ensure technical education is given ‘parity of esteem’.

Also welcome news is the approval of new apprenticeships in bricklaying and plastering, with Brian Berry of FMB saying “Government has demonstrated that it really is committed to working with the industry to increase the quality of apprenticeship training by approving these new standards. A recent article by the NBS provides a detailed look at the much talked about apprenticeship levy and how this impacts on the construction industry.

New technology in construction set to attract young people

The gaming industry is known for attracting young entrants with tech-oriented companies more adaptable to future advances. Can construction learn from their approach? A recent article by Bim+ shows how game engines are being increasingly used by architects and contractors. Stating that AR has much more potential to seriously affect the construction industry over the next five years than VR. A recent study predicted the use of virtual reality and augmented reality among CAD users will increase 140% over the next five years. The construction industry is exploring ways in which to use robotics in day to day construction. Already spray concrete robots are in use on Crossrail and Skanska are implementing robotic construction units to carry out tasks on site.

Drones are also being used by Building Control, monitoring through Aerial Inspections, providing time and cost saving benefits. A BIM+ article considers should the construction industry use drones more? Another advancement is 3D printing,  and the recent completion of the first 3d printed concrete house shows that 3D technology in the construction market is a reality. New materials are also have an impact on how we construct. For example graphene – the strongest, thinnest, lightest, conductive material ever discovered. But what does graphene mean for construction? NBS explore the potential applications.

Mark Farmer, with his review of the construction industry announced that we must Modernise or Die. B1M show in their article that recent tech advancements are finding their way in to the built environment sector. They look at six key areas to keep an eye on in 2017, including Wearable tech; Robotics; Internet of Things; Virtual and Augmented reality, unmanned aerial vehicles and, 3d printing. And a BIM+ article also presents Technology for 2017 and beyond interviewing five of the industry’s digital and innovation heads, asking them for their views and predictions on what we might see on site this year.

This building trend for innovation could be just what the construction industry needs. It could help attract new talent, whilst also boosting construction output.

Further information

REPORT: New Technology and Innovation in Construction

Key issues currently facing construction include labour availability and increasing material costs. The industry is being challenged to increase speed of output, achieve sustainability, whilst minimising costs, all during a skilled labour shortage.

The purpose of this report is to present actual information about innovation requirements in the construction supply chain. The report presents information in the areas of Pre-manufacture; Information & Technology; Sustainability and the Circular Economy; as well as new methods of construction.

This research is due for release early April 2017 at a cost of £350 + VAT.

Coming soon!

  1. Technology will surely reduce the impact of skilled labor shortage depending on the swiftness of adoption of digital technologies by all stakeholders. It is amazing to see companies realizing the need for a change in the homebuilding sector. We spoke to Jason Ruddle recently on the digital adoption in UK housebuilding, the key insights we collected in the following post on our blog:

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