Digitalisation in Construction
The Energy White Paper, Powering our Net Zero Future (CP 337), published in December 2020 by HM Government, defines digitalisation as: ‘…the integration of digital technologies into a process, organisation, or system. For example, smart meters which automatically send meter readings to energy suppliers, meaning more accurate bills for customers.’
The construction industry is finding significant efficiencies and cost savings as a result of digitalisation. But, a recent report by ex cabinet minister Kenneth Baker outlined fears for the future, identifying up to 15 million jobs at risk by 2025.
 What does it mean for the construction industry?
Given the construction industry has experienced an trend of young people lacking the motivation to enter our industry, this revolution may offer a mixed blessing.
Might we now get the pick of the crop?
Baker’s report predicted the type of jobs that will be in demand in the near future will be in technical management. Whilst his predictions show net change in employment declining in construction, technical management is the premise that the entire industry revolves around. Given that this is in complete alignment with the report recommendations, we should as an industry see benefit from the changing economy and employment structure.
 Current and future skills the construction industry needs
- The ability to examine and solve problems.
- Experience of working in teams.
- An ability to make data-based decisions – being ‘data savvy’.
- Social skills – particularly the confidence to talk and engage.
- Critical thinking, active listening, presentation and persuasion.
- Practical skills: the ability to make and do things for real.
- Basic business knowledge.
Baker’s report also suggests that education should adopt a new curriculum, similar to that currently offered by University Technical Colleagues (UTC’s). The syllabus blends traditional academic subjects with technical specialisms and project-based learning. The close ties to universities and employers ensure that students see the relevance of what they are learning, and thanks to employers, their learning becomes authentic.
 What does it mean for pre-construction?
What is most important, is that digitalisation will increase the time available for bid teams' solution development and problem solving. Through reducing the waste spent catching up and duplicating information across multiple systems and spreadsheets, more quality time can be leveraged to develop skills. The time gained allows for the all-important relationship management communications, which is fundamental in successful bid management.
Those in pre-construction should not fear change, but enjoy a less frantic, less stressful work winning environment, where quality and professionalism count for more than the numbers of bids pumped out each month.
Pre-Construction professionals who understand how to drive bid performance in a digital manner will be in great demand, and should look forward to the revitalised and efficient industry that is now on its way.
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