building Archives - Facilities Management Forum | Forum Events Ltd
Posts Tagged :

building

UK infrastructure plan will need ‘colossal’ skills drive

The government’s announcement of a record £650bn investment in infrastructure projects over the next decade will need to be matched by an unprecedented surge in training and recruitment, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).

A mixture of public money, private sector investment and the recruitment of more than 425,000 skilled workers is proposed to deliver the updated Infrastructure Pipeline plan published this week.

Over £30bn worth of social and economic projects are due to be launched this year, according to the Infrastructure and Projects Authority as part of an overall £200bn of work underpinning the government Build Back Better programme.

Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030’ lays out a detailed plan that could lead to a surge in new opportunities for apprentices, graduates, and experienced workers with the right skills, according to the Association.

Transport, energy, and utilities will command the largest share of the work, but there are also big plans for social and digital infrastructure between now and 2025.

BESA welcomed the updated plan as a “vote of confidence” for the sector but pointed out that the programme relies heavily on improving productivity through greater use of digital technology and innovation. Increasing use of Modern Methods of Construction will also be crucial as the projects unfold, but all of that will need to be supported by an upsurge in specific skills many of which are currently in short supply, the Association added.

“The current turmoil in our supply chains is a stark reminder of how failing to invest in training and retaining high quality people can undermine the best laid plans,” said BESA’s director of training and skills Helen Yeulet.

“The government’s infrastructure plans are extremely exciting, but will place even greater strain on the industry’s workforce unless accompanied by a colossal push to bring new blood into the sector and upskill existing workers.”

However, competition for skilled staff is expected to continue heating up over the next two to five years and will require employers in construction and engineering-related fields to look closely at what they have to offer.

“People shortages are likely to continue for an extended period,” said Yeulet. “This is not just about Brexit. We have seen a whole shift in the economy, which was accelerated by the pandemic and has led to record pay packages for people working in transport, logistics and hospitality.

“On the plus side, it has also started to redress the balance for many people in low paid jobs and means employers in our sector need to make sure what they are offering is attractive,” she added. “They need to make sure they are treating existing staff fairly and have clear career progression plans in place to entice new people into our sector with the right skills to take us forward.”

BESA said it was seeing encouraging growth in the numbers of young people interested in workplace-based training where they can work towards high level qualifications including degrees via an employer, who offers a guaranteed job at the end.

The rise of technical training including the introduction of T-levels is also helping to promote careers in building engineering and related disciplines giving further hope for the future.

“The current turmoil in labour markets should be something of a wake-up call for many employers,” said Yeulet. “There are a lot of workers who feel undervalued and treated like commodities. Investing in their professional development and rewarding them properly is the best way to demonstrate that their skills are valued.

“Building engineering will play a crucial role in rebuilding the economy and driving us towards a lower carbon future, so it is very important that we don’t undervalue our own product. Ironically, this difficult period could be a great opportunity to leave our ‘low-cost cut price’ culture behind and show clients why the whole industry deserves to be better funded and rewarded.”

UKGBC publishes Social Value guidance for local authorities

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has released its latest guidance document, detailing how local authorities can help ensure that new construction and property development in their area positively impacts people and communities by delivering social value.

‘Driving social value in new development: Options for local authorities’ is a comprehensive set of recommendations for local authorities, based on research and consultation with local government, businesses and not-for-profit experts. It is a detailed exploration of the policy mechanisms that can be used by local authorities to specify and ensure social value outcomes. Such outcomes include jobs and economic growth, health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability and strength of community.

John Alker, Director of Policy and Places at UKGBC said: “Ever since Government introduced the Social Value Act a few years ago, this topic has been rising up the agenda of both local authorities and private sector. However, there is still a long way to go before we fully grasp the opportunities presented by the concept, particularly in relation to development and regeneration.

“With the acute funding pressures faced by local authorities, as well as the growing interest in social impact investing and socially responsible business, there are strong drivers for public and private sector to work together to maximise the benefits from new development to local communities.”

The guidance covers the use of social value requirements in:

  • Local government procurement that relates to new development
  • Local planning policy
  • The disposal of local authority land

The document is available in UKGBC’s popular presentation resource format which allows local authorities to easily incorporate the organisation’s research into their own material.

As a live resource, the guidance will be updated periodically to reflect policy changes, latest thinking and new case studies. UKGBC is welcoming approaches from local authorities and other organisations wishing to contribute to the development of this resource.

GUEST BLOG: The future builders will be programmers

As software continues to pave the way to more advanced and complex buildings, the question arises over the shift in skills our future builders will need. Potentially, we will require builders with more technological skills than practical skills, especially as artificial intelligence continues to develop enough to be able to take over basic labour tasks. In this article, building design software experts Oasys explores the matter further… 

Worrying about technology and jobs 

It’s a common concern, that one day all our jobs will be done quicker and cheaper by machines. Technology will not steal our jobs, but just replace us as we shift roles. But how will this impact the construction industry? 

It’s important to understand the numbers behind predictions like this. Boston Consulting Group has said that by 2025, up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by smart software or robots. This includes a range of professions, from factory workers to doctors, and even journalists. However, a study carried out by Oxford University has said that 35% of existing jobs in Britain are at risk of automation in the next 20 years.

Whether or not we will see a reduction in physical workers is yet to be seen. However, this can be challenged if we start preparing early and encourage current and future workers to adapt to the changes. This could include advancing their own skillset with a focus on how they can do their job better with the use of technology.

Less replacing, more changing 

Of course, even if the workforce is replaced with mechanical workers, someone will need to manage this technology. It’s also left unmentioned that workers will need to use technology, and that leads us to the decision that in the construction industry, builders of the future will become programmers. Over the years, we have seen constant changes in the way we work, and the construction sector has been very accepting to new and innovative methods to make jobs easier. From hammers to nail guns, shovels to diggers — and now practical labour to programming.

This won’t be a quick change. Programming is a topic that schools around the UK should be looking to implement into their curriculums as a core subject to keep up with the demand of jobs and to keep up with the constant changes in technology. If we’re teaching young people old ways, they will be useless when it comes to doing the work and there might not even be jobs available that match their skillsets. With the constant growth in technology surrounding construction, young people need to be prepared with the skills and this shouldn’t be up for debate. Like the studies discussed earlier, more jobs are at risk of being lost due to smart software and robots. Workers need to be as good as the technology.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a common technology used in the industry that is hugely beneficial. This technology allows the appropriate people to access all of the information about a project in one place. It can look at key stages of a project across the lifecycle of a job and provide the information that is needed. This can save both time and money for any construction company and allows builders to have a clear oversight. BIM can help illustrate the entire building, from starting processes to its demolition, and can even show how materials can be reused. 

As with any industry, the trick is to stay ahead of the game and learn these new techniques required of technology in order to adapt. 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33327659

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/19/robot-based-economy-san-francisco