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COVID rebuild efforts could be thwarted by lack of digital construction skills 

Thames Valley, UK, 16 December 2021 – A new insight report reveals that the global architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector is being constrained by a shortage of specialist digital skills. 

The report, Building back in a post-pandemic world: Reconstructing Skills, published by KnowledgePoint highlights how more attention needs to be paid to the role of digital construction skills in the efforts to build back in a post-pandemic world.  It also asserts that governments, industry, training providers and academia need to be better at joining the dots between the demand for skilled workers and the supply of training and qualifications. 

It is acknowledged that technology can address fragmentation and improve integration of the market, which has faced a productivity challenge for many years. The global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology and digital construction solutions, and this growth is predicted to continue.  However, investment in the skills needed to capitalise upon these technologies hasn’t kept pace.  

The report highlights: 

  • Construction is big business. It contributes a significant amount to the global economy; construction-related spending accounts for 13% of global GDP1   
  • The AEC sector faced a lack of skilled labour before the pandemic. With physical distancing measures as well as travel restrictions, the shortage of skilled labour is expected to increase 
  • Actions to mitigate against climate change are likely to have implications for the global workforce, the types of jobs required and the skills and knowledge needed. It has been suggested such actions could create up to 20 million new jobs2 

Tomas Karlsson, head of Channel Services at KnowledgePoint says: “Digital skills hold the key. Not only do we need to raise the base level of digital skills around the world. But we need to make sure we’re developing and investing in the skills that employers actually need – and for the AEC sector, that means investing in the skills needed to capitalise upon digital construction technologies, such as Business Information Modelling (BIM).  

“Workers need access to programs that provide in-demand skills that lead to good jobs and careers. In my experience, the most effective strategies incorporate work-based learning models; programs developed through partnerships between employers and educational institutions that pair classroom learning with on-the-job learning.” 

The report makes three recommendations:  

  1. Strengthen the skills pipeline:  We need to strengthen the new talent pipeline and prepare young people with the skills required for an increasingly digitised and automated sector.  In addition, employers need to anticipate their future skills requirements, support retraining, and provide access to training now rather than later. 
  1. Invest in collaborative programs – industry, training providers and academia: Key digital skills need to be integrated across key curriculums; they should be taught as a foundational skill across various degree programmes.  Educators need to consider partnerships with industry and with expert training partners to help them stay abreast of developments.  
  1. Recognise the importance of certification: Professional training is necessary to upskill the existing workforce to help close the skills gaps. Certification allows employees to quickly acquire specialist technical skills to improve productivity and demonstrate competence. Certification ensures a proven minimum baseline of the required skills has been met.  

The report is available to download from   

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