by BIM Academy | February 10, 2023 | 3 min read
We have a new topic and a new host for the BIM Academy Digital Climate Podcast. Series 3 welcomes Andrew Johnson, BIM Academy’s Learning and Development Lead, as our host who will over the series ask our guests about digital skills gaps and what is the solution.
Andrew’s first guest is Dr Jennifer Eve Barrett, Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Management at the Lancashire School of Business & Enterprise, University of Central Lancashire.
It was an honour to have Jenni as our first guest in the new series. Jenni’s outstanding knowledge stems from her 15 years of experience in the construction industry working in building design, urban design, and infrastructure design teams. Jenni currently lectures and conducts research on the social and psychological aspects of working in design teams, looking in particular at how digital interaction differs from traditional face to face collaboration. She is also a leading researcher on gender equity in construction and a Core Team Member for the global initiative, Women in BIM.
Andrew began the conversation by asking Jenni to consider that with such a significant level of change to working methods and digital practices within the construction industry over recent years, does she believe the level of change to bring new skills to the industry has kept up the same pace and are there enough skilled workers in industry to be able to deliver these new digital ways of working?
Jenni responded that there are indeed skills gaps when it comes to digital construction, and immediate (and long term) action is needed to address this. Andrew and Jenni discussed why it is important to educate the benefits of digital working practices and how to apply them to projects from a young age. As an industry we need to not only tap into their curiosity, but to actively encourage creativity and innovation in young people, then provide a platform to express this.
Jenni says that introducing digital working methods and practices to our young generations now will future proof construction for the next set of innovators and forward thinkers to create even further progressive technologies, and, just as importantly, have the ability to apply these tools.
Both agreed that to do this a coordinated approach between education and industry is needed. Greater emphasis should be placed on what we teach in schools and universities – with a clear definition of what “digital skills” are. We are seeing many organisations investing in upskilling current individuals and teams, but we need to place digital skills on school and university curriculums so that when a young person enters the construction industry they are prepared – that they understand collaborative working and the power of technology.
The conversation touched upon how many young people have excellent technological and digital knowledge through the advancement of coding, gaming, virtual reality, etc. These all provide the perfect foundation for taking the next step into digital construction.
Fundamentally, digital skills need to be a key part of our learning at every age from primary school to further education. Listen to the full conversation with Andrew and Jenni on how to not only bridge skills gaps but addresses the problem at source.
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