What skills does our industry need, and where can we find them?

by Andrew Johnson | September 30, 2022 |  3 min read

What skills does our industry need, and where can we find them?
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All training has the same common, business-critical objective: to equip learners with the skills necessary to be successful and, therefore, to enable organisations to reach their full potential.

For some time, as an industry, we have discussed “skills-gaps”. There is a clear lack of skill in the application of digital construction methodologies. With international standards in place instructing the use of BIM and digital construction processes on construction and infrastructure projects, we clearly have the ‘what to do’ nailed, but there is a distinct lack the expertise available to actually deliver it.

That is why it is important to educate the benefits of digital working practices and how to apply them to projects from a young age. We need to not only tap into their curiosity, but actively encourage creativity and innovation, then provide a platform to express this.

Introducing digital working methods and practices to our young generations will future proof construction for the next set of innovators and forward thinkers to create even further progressive technologies, alongside the ability to apply these tools. Businesses are in desperate need of workers skilled in this area; educators need to realise they have the ability to close the skills gap.

This skills gap is a significant issue right now in the UK construction industry, with employers struggling to find workers with the right skills for their positions. In response, many businesses are turning to higher education (HE) and further education (FE) to help them upskill and reskill their workforce. However, there is a significant problem with employer engagement in HE & FE.

Only 10% of businesses actively work with colleges and universities to develop courses that meet their needs. This means that the vast majority of FE provision is not aligned with employer demand, which limits its effectiveness in tackling the skills gap.

How do we overcome this? One way is to improve employer engagement, making it easier for businesses to access information about HE & FE courses and providers.

This information is currently spread across different organisations, facilities and resources, making it difficult to compare options and make informed choices. If all of this information was gathered together and made more readily available, it would be much simpler for employers to identify relevant courses and providers.

Another way to improve employer engagement would be to provide more funding for training programmes that meet business needs. Currently, most government funding for FE goes towards general provision rather than specific subject areas, designed to address the skills shortage in particular industries or occupations – in this case, digital construction skills.

There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise within the higher education sector that could be used to help close skills gaps. However, too often, this expertise is not utilised effectively. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that many universities focus on research rather than updating their current content.

If we are to close the skills gap, it is essential that we make better use of the knowledge and expertise within HE & FE.

This means promoting closer collaboration between industry and academia, and ensuring that colleges and universities place greater emphasis on delivering current content. Only by doing this will we be able to equip people with the skills they need to succeed in today’s construction industry.

To find out more about BIM Academy training programmes, contact Learning and Development Lead, Andrew Johnson at [email protected].