On 5 July, business and energy secretary Greg Clark, announced a £420 million construction sector deal promising to revolutionize the industry. It’s an ambitious plan that aims to deliver 1.5 million homes by 2022 as well as supporting infrastructure, and to do this in a way that is time and cost efficient, and green.
But more importantly the deal aims to address the major skills shortage in the construction sector, setting aside £34 million to expand construction training programmes within the industry. These programmes will target the existing workforce ensuring that workers have the skills necessary to keep up with progress and technology. There is also a commitment to increase apprenticeships to 25000 by 2020 to encourage young graduates and school leavers to enter the industry.
A key feature of the deal is the incorporation of technology to improve efficiency and delivery. To meet the housing demand, government proposes off-site manufacturing, digital design and embracing new manufacturing technologies. Smart construction will see the incorporation of robotics and machine builds to reduce time to delivery. Energy efficient design and construction methods are to be used to reduce energy usage bills of end users.
Smart technology is already being rolled out in many major highway upgrades and incorporated in rail scheduling to make transportation more efficient. It is promising to know that the government is open to new technologies because these hold some of the greatest potential to boost the construction industry by reducing costs and improving accuracy and efficiency.
Will this be enough?
The skills shortage in construction is a major concern for the industry especially as its being compounded by the effects of Brexit. This new deal is aimed at creating highly skilled and well paid jobs, supporting the industry and driving economic growth. But will it be enough to create the construction revolution needed to secure the future of the industry?
While the deal shares a great vision there is skepticism as to whether it will be able to achieve its goals in practice. Success will require close collaboration from various industry stakeholders, something that the industry has been hesitant to do up until now. However, this will be necessary if the industry wants to future proof itself. Collaboration, technology and smarter delivery are all key elements of what is neccessary to usher in change. Maybe this will be the revolution the construction industry needs.