Shortages of skills in the housebuilding sector have been highlighted again, this time in a report from the UK Construction Leadership Council’s innovation stream which has attempted to set some strategic direction and a roadmap for the housebuilding sector to improve capacity, productivity and innovation. At its heart is the promotion of ‘Smart Construction‘, combining the Digital Built Britain strategy (read our July 2015 post) and Modern Methods of Construction.
In the document’s foreword, Mike Chaldecott (from Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland – the full report and a summary are both available from the Saint-Gobain website here) highlights the need for planning through collective thought and collaboration across the industry, and the report starts by listing (in order of priority) 11 key barriers to adoption of Smart Construction – most of them very familiar:
- Lack of collaboration
- Lack of demand
- Investment in suppliers who can support Smart Construction
- Lending, valuation & insurance
- Immature supply chain
- Risk-averse culture in construction
- Procurement models
- Business case for change
- Requires economies of scale
- Lack of performance data
- Skills shortage
The report also underlines key issues within the construction value-chain relating to Smart Construction, including a lack of Smart Construction skills, and the growing use of automated construction processes. The CLC’s innovation workstream has set up a number of working groups to address some of the challenges to adoption of Smart Construction, but key work on skills and culture appears to be the responsibility of the CLC’s skills workstream. (As previously noted in this blog, in the CLC has commissioned Mark Farmer to undertake a review of the functioning of the labour market, including skills provision, in the construction sector – and we understand his report will be published in the next week or so).
In August (post) we noted the work of a National Housing Taskforce, convened by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing & Planning, which had a workstream focused on construction skills, materials and technology.