Robots and virtual reality could replace 600,000 construction jobs

Grant Prior 12 months ago
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Up to 600,000 construction jobs could be replaced by new technology over the next two decades.

Mark Reynolds, Mace’s Chief Executive believes better training could boost industry productivity by £25bn

The prediction is part of a new report from Mace exploring how construction may need to change to meet the challenges of “Industry 4.0”

Industry 4.0 is the collective term for a range of technologies like cloud computing, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and robotics that experts believe represent a new industrial revolution.

Mace said that a major re-skilling of the construction talent pool will be needed to cope with the tech revolution.

And the contractors is warning that the industry will lose out on potential productivity benefits worth £25bn if it fails to train a new generation of more tech savvy workers.

Mark Reynolds, Mace’s Chief Executive, and skills lead on the Construction Leadership Council, said: “Everyone now acknowledges the current skills shortages need to be addressed.

“Our latest report high-lights the opportunities the digital revolution can offer, how we can dramatically close the future skills gap and how we can meet the £25bn ‘productivity challenge’.

“The recommendations we have laid out will go some way towards addressing these issues.

“The industry, our training bodies and government need to work together to take full advantage of everything that Industry 4.0 can offer.”

Mace’s report proposes three key recommendations that will help to ensure that the necessary number of workers can be re-trained. These are:

1. Accelerate the use of new technology in training
By mandating that the latest 3D printing technologies and augmented and virtual reality tools are introduced into industry training programmes and into ‘construction clubs’ in schools, the sector can better meet its future skills challenges will also ensuring that courses are attractive to potential students and recruits.

2. Inform lifelong learning decisions
At the moment data is sparse on what skills we will need in the future. By commissioning large-scale sector-wide research and working with Government bodies like the ONS and CITB, the construction industry will be able to ensure that its skills profile is changing to meet actual need.

3. Revolutionise our traditional education programmes
Current apprenticeship and training reforms will not go far enough to prepare the workforce for Industry 4.0. We need to upend the curriculum on offer now to reflect the modern methods of construction and off-site assembly that will be needed in the future.

To download a copy of the full report click here

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