Built environment needs to address the talent gap to make the digital transition says WEF

Built environment needs to address the talent gap to make digital transition says WEFThe construction industry needs new talent and skills to help in the adoption of new technologies to meet the challenges of digital transformation. It must also become more diverse, including increasing the percentage of women in the industry. These are the recommendations of a new report from the World Economic Forum, developed in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Shaping the Future of Construction: An Action Plan to solve the Industry’s Talent Gap. The report argues that the Infrastructure and Urban Development (IU) industry has failed to innovate as quickly as other sectors, resulting in stagnating productivity and negative effects on the economy, society and the environment. An ongoing industry-wide shortage of qualified workers is among the key reasons for this issue. It has undermined project management and execution, adversely affecting cost, timelines and quality. It also has impeded the adoption of new digital technologies, such as building information modelling (BIM), automated equipment and cloud-based collaboration tools, which could improve productivity. The report provides twelve key actions which needs to be implemented to close the structural talent gap of the construction industry.

It is the outcome of a roundtable with more than 30 high-profile representatives from leading global design, engineering and construction firms, industry associations, governments and academia, which outlines actions and successful implementation examples on company-, industry- and government-level.

According to the report’s executive summary, to close the talent gap and gain the skills necessary to accelerate adoption of promising new technologies, IU stakeholders should collaborate to foster talent through improving workers’ skills, attracting fresh talent to the industry and promoting new technologies.

To identify actions that will close the talent gap, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Construction Initiative, in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), hosted a roundtable “How to Solve the Talent Gap in the IU Industry?” on 17 October 2017, in BCG’s Berlin office. At the roundtable, 32 representatives from leading global design, engineering and construction firms, industry associations, government and academic institutions discussed key issues and developed measures to be pursued at company-, industry- and government-level, which are detailed in the action plan outlined in this report.

IU companies must strategically plan talent supply and demand, improve in-house learning and development programmes, and adopt new technologies to improve productivity and job satisfaction.

Companies must also update their work culture to appeal to younger workers and become more diverse, including increasing the percentage of women in the industry. Industry organizations should run image campaigns to promote IU jobs, target prospective new pools of talent, such as employees with suitable skills from other industries like gaming, establish common bodies of knowledge, make career paths more transparent, and collaborate on training with academia and vocational training providers.

Government must use its role as regulator and major owner of public works projects to develop regulations and sponsor initiatives that spur innovation and thereby increase the attractiveness of the IU industry. It must also harmonize building standards to make projects less complex and less labour intensive, update public-sponsored apprenticeships and academic programmes to include training on new skills, and boost support for job services.

You can download the full report here.

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