Building Skills for Offsite Construction
On 13 April 2017, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) published a report claiming new skills are the key to success for offsite construction.
The report, ‘Faster, Smarter, More Efficient: Building Skills for Offsite Construction’, says offsite construction could revolutionise the industry and provide a solution to the UK’s housing crisis, but only if the right skills are in place.
Despite offsite construction currently accounting for just 10% of the industry’s output, the report highlights findings that 42% of construction employers with more than 100 staff expect to use offsite methods in the next 5 years. 100% said they expected an increase in the use of precast concrete panels, and 91% expected an increase in the use of precast concrete frames.
The report follows the recommendations set out in Mark Farmer’s ‘Modernise or Die’ published in 2016 and challenging CITB to reform their practices.
Six key skills areas related to offsite construction methods are outlined by the report:
- Digital design.
- Offsite manufacturing.
- Site management and integration.
- Onsite placement and assembly.
The report identifies significant barriers which prevent the delivery of training and skills in these crucial areas. These include a lack of awareness and suitability of available training and qualifications, and a shortage of qualified training providers and assessors.
CITB recommend the following actions:
- Lead a review of National Occupation Standards (NOS) in partnership with employers.
- Apply standards to a construction context, supporting key offsite functions.
- Develop a competency framework for offsite construction through working with industry.
- Promote career opportunities in offsite.
- Work alongside bodies such as the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to create ‘centres of excellence’ for skills and knowledge.
- Work with industry to develop new qualification units and stand-alone knowledge courses.
- Fund industry experts to encourage the uptake of standardised courses.
Mark Farmer, the author of ‘Modernise or Die’ said:
“This report comes at a crucial time for the construction industry. Any strategic shift towards pre-manufacturing and offsite construction creates an immediate requirement to define our future skills needs through collaboration between industry, educators, training providers and government... I welcome this report from the CITB and hope it adds to the current growing momentum for industry change.”
Steve Radley, Director of Policy at CITB, said:
“There is massive potential for offsite construction. The Government recently announced an additional £1.4bn of funding for affordable homes, with an increase in offsite construction set as an objective, representing a clear opportunity for growth in this area. That’s why CITB has set out a clear strategy within this report to show how we’re going to work closely with industry over the next five years to push the offsite agenda forward.
“The greatest potential currently lies within the housing and commercial sectors, where mass customisation can create the buildings we need more quickly and to higher standards. There are also opportunities to bring the benefits of offsite to large-scale infrastructure projects – some high profile examples include HS2 and Hinkley Point, which are already using offsite techniques.”
“We will also work with other stakeholders – such as in design and manufacturing – to apply existing training in a construction context. We will step up our promotion of the career opportunities offsite can offer, emphasising digital skills, to attract a wider pool of people into these key roles.”
To read the full report, see here.
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