In an industry that prides itself on collaboration, the construction sector must fully embrace digitisation to unlock its true potential. However, a prevailing hesitancy to share data has hindered effective collaboration, leading to duplication of effort.
In a bid to address this issue, the industry can draw inspiration from the aviation sector, striving for a “black-box moment” and fostering a positive culture centred around learning and continuous improvement, rather than blame.
Recent research from our Collaboration Transformation wrike paper, based on an in-depth survey with 55 industry leaders, confirms overwhelming support (93%) for the creation of a data-sharing platform designed to collaborate, innovate, and upskill together.
Driving Industry-Wide Improvement
Implementing a comprehensive data-sharing platform holds the promise of driving improvement across various facets of the construction industry.
Beyond the obvious benefits of streamlined processes, increased efficiency, and enhanced safety practices, such a platform has the potential to revolutionise the integration of technology and delivery of training.
By fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange, it can facilitate the industry’s ability to adapt and thrive in the face of rapid technological advancements and changing market demands.
Debating Health and Safety Training
Health and safety training remains a cornerstone of the construction industry. However, there is significant disagreement on the most effective approach to ensure a safe working environment. The widely recognized CSCS certification card, commonly used by site workers, serves as the de facto standard for many. Yet, its lack of official industry status and non-universal adoption raise questions about its efficacy.
While the majority (88%) of survey respondents mandated the use of CSCS cards on site, only 53% considered them fit for purpose. The heart of the relevancy debate lies in the further segmentation of responses, which reveals a clear divide between those who operate mainly on site and those with less frequent site visits.
On one side of the fence, we have businesses that are not on site every day, such as developers and professional services firms, who view CSCS cards as valuable tools for staff awareness regarding onsite health and safety (93% agreement). They perceive the cards as providing valuable insights into the practical aspects of construction sites.
Meanwhile, on the not fit for purpose side of the fence, we find 61% of contractors, demolition, and civil firms. Their scepticism arises from several reasons. They argue that the CSCS levels may be too low for the likes of tier one contractors who require higher competencies.
Furthermore, some insurers have stated that CSCS certification holds little value when it comes to risk mitigation. Critics also claim that the certification focuses more on information retention than actual competency. These concerns have led to calls for alternative approaches to health and safety training that better align with the diverse needs of the industry.
The survey revealed an alarming knowledge gap, with 65% of respondents admitting to having limited information about training opportunities for young people. This lack of awareness contributes to the industry’s struggle to attract and retain young talent, exacerbating the widening skills gap.
In this context, it becomes crucial to seek guidance and leadership from industry bodies, such as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), to navigate these challenges effectively.
However, the research findings indicate that people across the construction sector are not perceiving the desired leadership from organisations like the CITB. Among those who have some connection with the CITB, 78% expressed criticism, stating that it needs to do more to help attract new talent into the industry.
Moreover, there is a prevailing sentiment that the CITB’s level of engagement with contractors has deteriorated over time.
Changing Training Models
To bridge the skills gap effectively and address the modern challenges facing the construction industry, a paradigm shift in training approaches is imperative.
The current training landscape struggles to keep pace with the rapid changes occurring within the industry. Training programs must become more dynamic, concise, and aligned with the evolving requirements of the sector.
By embracing shorter and more targeted training programs, the construction industry can not only fill critical roles but also tackle pressing issues head-on. Qualifications should be designed to meet the specific needs of different job roles, ensuring that individuals acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in a more focused and efficient manner.
Such an approach would enable the industry to keep up with the pace of change and effectively respond to evolving technologies and practices.
Issuing some final thoughts, it is clear that the construction industry stands at a critical juncture, facing significant challenges while simultaneously harbouring immense opportunities.
By embracing digitisation, fostering collaboration through data sharing, and reimagining training models are key steps in overcoming obstacles and driving the industry forward. To achieve these goals, a collective commitment from all stakeholders is necessary, alongside stronger leadership from organisations like the CITB.
Furthermore, by taking note of these necessary changes, the construction industry can continue to build a future characterised by effective collaboration, innovation, and continuous improvement, ensuring a robust and sustainable industry for years to come.