Recently, I was invited by The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) to lead a webinar entitled ‘Designing a world for the next generation’, where I discussed the megatrends affecting the industry, the evolution of digital capability and how innovation and connection will drive changes in the industry.
From climate change and the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) to declining natural resources and blurring of digital and physical spaces, a multitude of megatrends have emerged over the last decade that are drastically changing, and placing increasing demands on the construction and real estate sectors. These changes require an immediate response from our industry, but if the trend of low productivity growth in construction persists the industry will fail to create the agile, resilient and responsive built environment and infrastructure required to satisfy the need of current and future generations.
This challenge with productivity is a result of many deep-rooted factors including complex regulations, and disconnected project teams, delivery methods and data, to name a few. Technology and innovation have major roles to play in helping the industry untangle itself from this web of problems toward an accelerated change. However, as the industry suffers from low margins, the application of technology and innovation must be prudent and focused on specific business challenges and value creation — implementing technology must not be done only for the sake of implementation.
Another key component is identifying and introducing the right skillsets that will enable any technology or innovation. Unfortunately, the industry is suffering from a skills shortage. According to Mind the Gap: Tackling the Construction Skills Shortage, only 1% of employers have apprenticeship schemes, around 20% of the construction workforce is already more than 50 years old, and the industry does not seem to be very appealing to the next generation of professionals as manifested in its 4.2 out of 10 scoring for industry appeal among 16-19 year olds. To support the acceleration of our industry, we must tackle this endemic skills crisis head-on in order to attract and retain the right skills taking into consideration that the average half-life of skills has reduced from thirty to five years, and the average individual may have up to 17 different roles across five different industries, as outlined in a recent Forbes report.
We know the solution, but how do we do it? How do we attract the right skills and harness the power of new technologies and innovation?
We can start by initiating digital transformation strategies and upskilling people within our respective organizations. But these efforts must extend on a wider scale: from governments creating a digital vision for the industry and partnering with academia to drive STEM programs through to subcontractors and suppliers engaging in cross-industry innovation programs.
Fragmentation is the enemy! Continued fragmented approaches specific to processes and data, skills acquisition, development and retention, automation, and digital value proposition development, must stop if the industry is to evolve effectively. To fight fragmentation and drive an industry-wide change, we need to establish five key connections:For more information on this webinar and the Arcadis Middle East digital transformation program, please contact me.
The world is a complex place, Arcadis helps you navigate this complexity by understanding the bigger picture. Click here to read our latest thinking.
Arcadis is committed to providing a healthy and safe work environment for all our employees.