Just what kinds of skills will the contractors of the future need? As software continues to advance, and more complex buildings and structures are designed, and built – will construction industry workers need technological skills rather than practical skills, especially when you consider that artificial intelligence is likely to play an even bigger role in basic labour tasks?
In this short piece, Oasys – building design software specialists – give an overview:
Will technology ‘steal’ 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.
Adaptation will be key
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, contractors 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 contractors 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.