As the construction sector becomes increasingly more digital, its workforce also needs to adapt. But with this new technological age comes a number of concerns, such as whether there will be a heavy shift away from physical labour work as robotics pick up these tasks.
Will there be more robots than people in the workplace?
It’s not quite as simple as asking if robots will steal our jobs! Technology will not steal our jobs, but just replace us as we shift roles. But how will this impact the construction industry? To understand, we need to have an oversight on statistics that have been released regarding this issue.
By 2025, around 25 per cent of jobs will be picked up by robots or smart software alternatives, predicts Boston Consulting Group. This includes a range of professions, from factory workers to doctors, and even journalists. However, a study carried out by Oxford University has said that 35 per cent of existing jobs in Britain are at risk of automation in the next 20 years.
There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the reduction of physical workers. However, this can be challenged if we start preparing early and encourage current and future workers to adapt to the changes. This could include advancing their own skillset with a focus on how they can do their job better with the use of technology.
A change within construction
It is quickly forgotten, however, that these machines and robots will need human input and maintenance to operate. It’s also left unmentioned that workers will need to use technology, and that leads us to the decision that in the construction industry, contractors of the future will become programmers. Over the years, we have seen constant changes in the way we work, and the construction sector has been very accepting to new and innovative methods to make jobs easier. From hammers to nail guns, shovels to diggers — and now practical labour to programming.
Naturally, this won’t be a swift process. Programming is a topic that schools around the UK should be looking to implement into their curriculums as a core subject to keep up with the demand of jobs and to keep up with the constant changes in technology. If we’re teaching young people old ways, then there might not even be jobs available that match their skillsets. With the constant growth in technology surrounding construction, young people interested in entering the industry, need to be prepared with the skills. Like the studies discussed earlier, more jobs are at risk of being lost due to smart software and robots. Workers need to be as good as the technology.
The technology in this sector is indeed highly beneficial. When it comes to a common piece of software that is used in construction, Building Information Modelling (BIM) is an element that can be beneficial, as it allows the appropriate people to access all of the information about a project in one place. It can look at key stages of a project across the lifecycle of a job and provide the information needed. This can save both time and money for a construction company and allows contractors to have a clear oversight. BIM can help illustrate the entire building, from starting processes to its demolition, and can even show how materials can be reused.
Rather than technology ‘stealing’ people’s jobs, it is the job role itself that is changing. It would certainly be advised for workers to continue to develop new skills in order to keep up with this.