Constructing the future

How the skills needed for success in the workplace are changing.

01 September 2018

The City & Guilds and The Work Foundation have collaborated to publish an overview of the construction industry. Both organisations share a common interest in understanding the evolution of the workplace and the skills required of those employed in it during a time of significant change and amidst a number of challenges.

The construction industry is big – almost 2m people work in it in the UK and it represents 8% of the UK’s GDP.  It impacts on the lives of everybody through the built environment and the services we rely on and rightly it is a Government priority. With £600bn of projects in the national infrastructure pipeline and a call by Government to make efficiency savings of £1.7bn already announced, it is an industry facing significant challenges and expectations.

It is also a highly fragmented industry with a few major players and a long supply chain of self-employed and micro businesses where costs have traditionally been driven down to marginalise profits and where investment in skills and training is limited to regulatory requirements. In terms of leadership and management, only agriculture scores lower in terms of high performance management and pre-Brexit access to cheap labour has curtailed the need to invest in new technologies or training.

As with other industries, it stands on the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution and the need to reskill in preparation for the introduction of new technologies.  And for an industry that traditionally uses low level skills, this will require a change in culture across management and the current workforce.  It will, however, enable the industry to reposition itself and address its image and gender issues especially with young people. Future cohorts of workers will need to be increasingly tech savvy.

Our research confirmed that the construction industry faces some really and tough challenges, but the introduction of new technologies also affords it real opportunities to address some outstanding issues.  In a fragmented industry collaboration has to be pathway to both efficiencies and a better skilled workforce and addressing the quality of leadership will enable this to happen. The sector is used to paying training levies and these need to be used wisely to upskill the current workforce, making it fit for the future and which essentially must be accessible across the industry from corporates to the self-employed.

This has real implications for the delivery element of training where new technologies will also impact on traditional methods but will also offer new opportunities.  Our question is can the current education and training system rise to these challenges and deliver the upskilling and lifelong learning required in a sector in transition.

Read the report now:

Constructing the future report PDF