A new report published by CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) shows that construction can reap major rewards from digital skills and technology, but only if it takes decisive action in the next five years.
CITB's report, Evolution or Revolution?, looks at a range of scenarios for the pace of technological change in construction which will inform the forthcoming CLC Future Skills Plan.
The research finds that as a less-automated sector, construction stands to gain much more from modernisation than other parts of the economy. Embracing digital technology and cutting-edge skills can help address ongoing industry challenges like wafer-thin profit margins; the need to recruit, upskill and retain the future workforce; and improving health, safely and mental wellbeing.
The next five years will likely see technological adoption evolve, then speed up – but only when the right conditions are in place, including:
- Building a shared definition of what digital construction means and the skills it requires
- Sharing best practice much more widely and,
- Liberating leaders and managers to take calculated risks and drive new approaches.
Stephen Radley, CITB Director of Strategy & Policy said:
“Construction has lagged behind other industries in harnessing the benefits of digitalisation but is now looking to catch up. New technology has enormous potential to make construction greener, safer and smarter, while boosting productivity.
“This research shows that while it may take two decades for the industry to achieve full technological adoption, the next five years are critical. Skills will be at the heart of these changes and we will work with government and industry to agree digital skills goals and a plan to meet them. The CLC Future Skills Strategy (scheduled for publication in April 2019) will provide more details on how we can take this critical work forward as a whole industry.
“In the meantime we have committed some £7m  to help industry get the skills it needs to modernise through investments in offsite, digital skills and immersive learning.”
 CITB has provided £3.3m in funding for Immersive Learning and £1.5m to develop training materials to support offsite construction. A new digital skills funding commission worth £2.35m will: equip leaders with skills to digitise their business; define and embed standardised digital competences; and enable industry to deliver training and development in line with defined competencies.