Should the construction industry be doing more to embrace technology?

As the construction industry runs the risk of falling into a state of stagnation, a number of experts have come to the conclusion that construction workforces need to take steps in adapting to technologies, such as robotics and digital design, in order to succeed.

 

In the tumultuous times of Brexit, fewer businesses are undertaking large scale construction projects within the UK, and this has lead to a period of decreased growth. According to a recent article in the Telegraph, the construction industry is now expected to flatline in 2018 after estimates to growth were downgraded.

 

There are a number of reasons for this decline, including the stalling of large scale projects such as the HS2 and an overall shortage of skilled workers in the industry. Additionally, a number of experts have also cited the industries slow adoption of tech which could be used to aid in project planning (thus making more ambitious and higher revenue generating projects more feasible) as a further reason for the stalling industry.

The financial landscape

If we take a broad overview of the current financial landscape, it is easy to see why such a struggle exists. We currently exist in an environment where large expenses, particularly where the UK is concerned, are costly and unappealing, with success difficult to predict, particularly for international and European businesses. In response to this, many of these businesses are choosing to wait out the storm. This leaves the construction industry, and the many workers in the industry, in a more competitive, less financially prosperous position.

 

In this kind of situation, it is easy to see why the prospect of digital tools, robotics, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence may seem an intriguing prospect for high ranking construction planners and managers. By cutting costs in manual labour, saving planning and design time overall, construction companies can potentially save thousands, whilst being able to distinguish themselves from competitors. Despite the substantially large initial costs of implementing such technologies, labour shortages, and the nature of the competitive landscape, make this an even more acceptable investment.

Looking to the future

Although this may sound worrying for manual labourers, it shouldn’t necessarily be. It has been suggested that by using technologies such as digital design and offsite construction, productivity in the construction industry could be improved by as much as 40%.

It has also been estimated that up to 600,000 construction jobs could be lost by 2040 due to these levels of automation. Though this is a worrying statistic, this is consistent across many industries and is is something that everyone, from manual laborers to site managers, needs to adapt to, sooner rather than later.

 

How do we do this?

Adapt and educate. Continuing to develop the education and skill level of the construction industry workforce will mean that personnel are more difficult to replace. As mentioned previously, there is a skill shortage in the industry which needs to be addressed. This means that there is a gap for skilled employees, and with automation still realistically a way off, there are plenty of opportunities for those that continue to develop and refine their skill set.

 

As technological advances improve, there will be new jobs that open within the construction industry and greater opportunities for workforce employees who are able to adapt to the changing times.

 

In summary, the news that the construction industry is in a period of change, and that the rise in technology is likely to change the future landscape, is bittersweet news. Adversity breeds opportunity, and those who seek to improve their skillset and embrace the changing industry are likely to find great success – for now and for the future.

How can Q2W help ?

Experienced construction managers, supervisors and trades people develop an extensive range of skills and knowledge throughout their career. Your skills and knowledge will be transferrable. However, employers will demand proof of competence through nationally recognised qualifications.

 

Q2W will help you to Adapt and Educate. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are assessed in the workplace against industry standards. Formal recognition of your experience will be achieved by working with Q2W to gain the most appropriate NVQ.


7 things to remember now that White CSCS Cards have been retired

On the 30th September, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme withdrew the CRO (Construction Related Occupation), or White Card. This means that any cards received post October 2015 are no longer valid, and anyone holding solely these cards is not legally certified to work on site.

It is important that you understand exactly which card you need in order to adhere to regulations, and not face a fine.

Here are some quick facts that are important to remember now that the White Card has been retired:

  1. Any card issued prior to October 2015 is valid until it expires.
  2. ALL UKCG* and HBF** sites require you to have a CITB approved CSCS card, otherwise both yourself and the site manager or contractor may be liable for a fine for not complying with CDM Regs. 2015.
  3. If you do not have a card, you will not be allowed on site.
  4. The card you require depends on your occupation.
  5. You can use the CSCS Card finder if you need to search for the recommended card for your occupation.
  6. You DO NOT have to stop working if you are no longer in possession of a card AS LONG AS you are currently in the process of gaining a qualification.
  7. Q2W offer NVQ courses for most occupations which allow you to continue working whilst studying.

Want to know more? Get the lowdown on white CSCS cards on our previous blog. Do you have any questions about the withdrawal of the CRO Card or want some help to ensure that you’re fully compliant with site rules and regulations? Get in touch with Q2W and we will be happy to chat to you about your situation or help you make plans.

We are currently assisting a huge range of workers across the construction industry towards attaining a qualification whilst they work. We can help you or your workers gain an NVQ in the relevant field whilst you work, meaning no time off is needed! We have a great support system for you at every stage of the assessment process to get you quickly and easily qualified to work. Get in touch today.

*UK Contractors Group (UKCG)

** Home Builders Federation (HBF)


Who’s who on site?

Construction sites have varying levels of roles and responsibilities according to the site structure. All workers are hired by contractors, and will be required to hold certain qualifications according to their position. As part of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, workers must hold the required level of qualification in order to legally work on site.

As well as the workers, there is a structure of duty-holders who are responsible for multiple elements – including health and safety and best practice on site. Every construction project will have to comply with the legal duty requirements as laid out by CDM Regulations of 2015.

The responsibilities of each duty holder will vary from project to project, but their roles will remain approximately the same. So who’s who on site?

  • Skilled craft operatives – Level 2 NVQ – relevant NVQ in their trade discipline. Health and Safety in a Construction Environment. Technical skills.
  • Supervisors – Level 3 NVQ – covers a wide range of disciplines. The supervisor will have deeper skill understanding and a relevant NVQ in their discipline/occupation. health and safety training.
  • Site supervisors – Level 4 NVQ – responsible for organising construction on site. This includes workers, tools and machinery, so typically is an experienced construction worker. Responsible for health and safety, welfare and environmental protection. Comprehensive understanding of building regulations. Site Supervisor’s Safety Training Scheme (SSTS) or Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) qualification.
  • Construction site managers, Estimators, Buyers, Surveyors and Project Managers – Level 6 NVQ – responsible for general management and operational control. Must have an overall understanding of everything that is happening and all elements of the construction industry.
  • Construction senior managers – Level 7 NVQ – aware of industry best practice, general management, health and safety and in-depth construction site experience.

Importantly, all workers must have a valid CSCS card which is appropriate to their position.

There will also be others involved in construction projects, including other inspectors; legally required, government officials who will check that workers on site are complying with legislation.

(Note that this is not an exact breakdown of the legal structure of every site, as each will be different – and often individuals will take on multiple or varying roles according to circumstance. Roles and responsibilities should always be made clear in the contract.)


How can you prepare for the future of the construction industry?

The development in technology has led workers in many different industries to question the security of their roles. Whilst some will feel that they are irreplaceable, others are aware of the need to prepare themselves for the oncoming technological advancements to ensure job security. The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is set to raise industry standards across the globe, bringing technical innovation to the forefront of every industry. How will the future of construction be shaped by these changes, and how will it affect the workers?

A shortage of labour

Japan currently has a labour shortage in the construction industry. The shortage, combined with the demand created by extra construction projects for the 2020 Olympics, has meant that the industry is struggling to cope. To solve this, Komatsu (the world’s second largest construction company), has rolled out automated bulldozers to do the pre-foundation work on a construction site. Drones use 3D laser scanners to do the initial ground checking; surveying both above and below ground to map out the area. The bulldozers are subsequently automated, although there are human operators on hand ‘if necessary’.

It is this kind of technological advancement that is inspiring the future of the construction industry. In just a few decades, design and development have moved from pencil and paper to mobile and tablet devices, capable of quickly taking measurements, statistics and knowledge and collating project data. BIM (Building Information Modelling) technology creates a 3D model of a building and includes all given data, as well as projecting an understanding of how the materials will work together. This is now mandatory for all government buildings. It allows for open access to information, to create clearer lines of communication.

Solidifying your position

Whilst many believe the construction industry must modernise or die, we understand that it can be concerning to understand where you would fit in a technology driven construction future. After all, there are plenty of ‘we’re being replaced by robots’ scare stories. Whether you are old-school and debating if you will need to retrain to remain relevant, or just coming into the industry and wanting to ensure that you have the best possible prospects for a bright future, considering how the future will affect you is a good place to start.

Consider your chosen career path or where you would like to end up (and remember that the roles of the future may not even exist yet!). In 2016 the World Economic Forum suggested that “technological disruptions such as robotics and machine learning—rather than completely replacing existing occupations and job categories—are likely to substitute specific tasks previously carried out as part of these jobs, freeing workers up to focus on new tasks and leading to rapidly changing core skill sets in these occupations.”

Progression is encouraged, as developing a specific skill set will make you far more indispensable. There are many roles that will consistently require the ‘human’ touch. It is also highly recommended that you are fully qualified and knowledgeable in your chosen field, so you can stay ahead of any developments. ‘Soft’ skills that show emotional intelligence, like communication, critical thinking and complex problem solving, as well as creativity, will remain in demand. Programs that encourage you to incorporate learning into your day-to-day role are ideal, as they are great practice for learning on the job.
Adaptability and willingness to learn, progress and develop will be key for the coming changes. If you want to know more about being qualified to work, or how to develop your career potential, contact Q2W. We offer on the job assessments across a range of NVQs, which are ideal for developing your future prospects.


The lowdown on white CSCS cards

On the 30th of September this year, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme will withdraw the CRO (Construction Related Occupation) Card. This will affect around 230,000 people in the UK. Are you one of those workers? If so, it may mean that you will no longer be certified to work on site.

Here we are looking the implications of this withdrawal, and how it will affect the construction industry (and you!) and what the options will be.

CSCS no longer issue CRO cards; the scheme ended on the 31st March 2017. Any cards that have been issued SINCE October 2015 will expire on the 30th September 2017, although any issued prior to October 2015 will remain valid until they expire.

Most principal contractors and construction sites will require you to have a card in line with the regulations, as otherwise, both parties can receive a fine if an incident should happen. A CSCS card essentially proves you have the skills required to do your job. You need an NVQ to get a CSCS card.

Why?

This is part of a plan to ensure that the industry reaches the Construction Leadership Council’s requirement of ensuring nationally recognised qualifications are in place for all construction related occupations.

What will happen?

This depends on the type of card you have and the role you currently work in. If you have existing qualifications then you will be required to register them to receive a card. Some roles/industries will be required to switch to a Partner Card Scheme, that better suits your occupation. It may also be that if your occupation is not construction related/no skills apply,  a CSCS card or equivalent will no longer exist. If you do not have a valid card then you may not be allowed on site. It is a legal requirement that duty holders ensure their site workers are qualified, and failure to do so can result in a fine.

What do I need to do?

You can search your occupation on the CSCS card finder to see exactly what your next steps should be. It may be that you need to register your current skills, but if not, you will need to start considering registering for an NVQ course. Don’t panic – if you do need to update your qualifications then this won’t necessarily stop you from working. At Q2W as part of our NVQ assessment offering, we give you the ability to register for a temporary worker’s card whilst you train – meaning you will be on-site approved and you WON’T need to take time off work.

How do I do it?

Talk to us. At Q2W, our friendly team are here to help you. We offer a variety of NVQ courses at all levels and, once you have signed up, you will be valid to apply for a temporary card. To find out more about temporary cards, and how we can help you, see our blog on temporary CSCS cards or you can contact us.


Where you stand with a temporary CSCS card

 

CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) cards are vital for any worker to prove their competency when working on site.

As of this September, anyone with a white card will now need to have an NVQ before being able to renew; this affects the entire construction industry.

Enrolling on your NVQ course with Qualified2Work entitles you to a temporary card which will last for 6 months (twice as long as it takes you to complete your NVQ with us), meaning that you are able to work on site and avoid losing money during the time you’re training.

What is the card for?

  • The 2015 CDM (Construction Design Management) Regulation update means that you must now prove that you either have the skills and training in order to work safely and securely on site, or are in the process of gaining them.
  • The CSCS card can prove that the worker has (or is training towards) these skills.
  • NVQs are now the industry standard as proof of your competency.

Why is this important?

  • It is a legal requirement for duty holders (seniors, site managers and senior site management) to ensure ALL workers on site have the correct qualifications.
  • Contractors must also ensure workers have these skills before appointing them to work on site.
  • If you do not have a card, or have the wrong card, then you may be denied access to construction sites.
  • If you are found to be without the card, you, the company and your employer could be fined.

Q2W’s sign-up system means that once you have paid for your course you will be enrolled and sent a confirmation document, which you can use to apply for your card. We offer NVQs in a range of construction fields.

Importantly, you will not need to take time away from work to complete the course. Our methods are based around on-site assessments, which can be done through email, pictures or photocopies – whichever is easiest for you! You can also be confident working with us; our friendly and approachable team have helped our students to achieve a 100% pass rate across the country.

For more information on how to apply for a CSCS card, you can head to their website. Or, to find out more about starting your NVQ, or if you have any questions then you can contact our friendly team for free advice and guidance.


Q2W at London Build 2016

London-build-2016

The 26th and 27th October sees London Build 2016 return to London’s Olympia for the second time, designed to highlight all of the latest developments and demands within the booming construction and building industry.

As the leading event showcasing all you need to know about construction projects and opportunities in London and the southern portion of the country, London Build 2016 plays host to influencers and attendees from throughout the extended construction industry. This includes government, architects, property developments, suppliers and contractors, as well as many more.

Get involved

This year’s expo sees a host of ways to get involved and have some fun, including the construction industry’s first-ever dedicated Oktoberfest Beer Festival. What better way to network than in true Oktoberfest style? There’s also workshops, conference sessions, a Health & Safety Summit and the London Construction Awards, featuring top quality entertainment. For 2016 there’s going to be an additional Sustainability Summit, focusing on how the industry can utilise sustainable materials and technology to help minimise the impact of building and construction on the planet.

The event is broken down into Zones, including a Skills Hub, Building Zone, Materials Zone, Interiors Zone, and many more. Each Zone houses it’s own mix of exhibitors, specialist workshops and networking opportunities, so you can make sure that you’re finding what you’re looking for.

Whether you’re looking to get insights into the latest projects, look for investment opportunities, hunt out some innovative new machinery solutions or find out about building the skill set of your workforce, London Build is the place to be.

Got your ticket?

The 2016 event sees over 200 booths exhibiting at London Build, and we’re thrilled to be one of them. You can find Qualified 2 Work at Stand E67 in the Buildings Zone, so make sure you come and see our friendly team for a chat if you’re at the event!