Moulton College’s Construction Future Skills event on March 3 saw construction employers call on the Government for an education rethink in order to successfully meet growing future skills demand.
Construction Minister Lee Rowley attended the event, where more than 30 construction employers, decision makers, educators and students met to explore the future of the built environment and address how workforce skills and supply challenges can be tackled.
The event consisted of two parts, an exhibition to showcase new technologies with innovators and contractors demonstrating to the next generation how AI, automation, robotics and other technologies are changing the way we construct; and a workshop focused on establishing the hard and soft skills construction needs for the future and how to deliver them.
Solutions discussed in the workshop session included asking Government to help plug the construction technology skills gap and safeguard the sector’s workforce future by facilitating better on-the-job training, through more work experience opportunities and by making apprenticeships more technology-focused. A better flow of learning between schools, colleges and employers, improved integration of education and industry, and increased emphasis upon – and access to – lifelong learning were also highlighted as vital.
Speaking after his visit to the Construction Future Skills event, Lee Rowley, said:
“It’s been fantastic to meet some of the young people looking to make construction their career and see their enthusiasm for the technology paving the way for the future of this industry.
“These students could be tomorrow’s leaders of the change we are all trying to enact, so it was truly inspiring to hear some of the discussions, ideas and creativity from them, as well as industry innovators driving construction forward. It’s so very important that all voices across the sector are heard, and that we come together to provide the right opportunities, education and inspiration to the next generation to make a real difference to the way we build and achieve our goals of increased sustainability and innovation.”
Mark Wakeford, Moulton College Governor and Joint Managing Director of Stepnell Ltd, said:
“I was really pleased to hear lively discussion around our sector’s future training requirements, common ground among delegates, as well as openness and honesty in sharing their own experiences and progression.
“Current students were keen to learn the hard skills they need to succeed in a construction career, while industry leaders highlighted the soft skills also needed to complement these, which will ensure new entrants add well-rounded value. Industry leaders emphasised the importance of lifelong learning – ever-more important in the fast-changing world of our construction industry. However, it is clear challenges with courses and awarding bodies remain to be resolved.”
Moulton College Principal & CEO Corrie Harris added: “Our construction industry is always adapting and improving and is embracing innovation faster than ever. At Moulton College we are in a privileged position to help nurture and grow the sector’s talent coming through, while also speaking to employers regularly about what their current and future skills needs are to drive real change in the industry.”
The event was supported by partners Constructing Excellence (CE) Midlands and the National Federation of Builders (NFB). Exhibitors included 360safeVR with their immersive film and behavioural change programmes; Software-as-a-Service platform for Building Information Modelling 3D Repo; KOREC Construction and their mixed-reality headset and augmented reality solution; Flannery Plant’s plant simulator; digital construction solution Oculo; geo-spatial technology specialists Ridge & Partners; leading regional construction business Stepnell; free-to-use platform for apprenticeships, traineeships and work experience in construction, Talentview Construction (TVC); Tenstar and their machinery and training tools simulator; and Winvic and their virtual reality health and safety training.
James Gregory, Strategic Business Manager at 3D Repo, sharing his experience of the event, said:
“It’s been fantastic to engage with like-minded people and the next generation in construction. They’re coming into a different construction industry – one that’s pushing the boundaries in efficiency and sustainability, and I look forward to seeing the changes they bring.”
Emma Alderman, CSR Manager at Winvic, said:
“We really enjoyed attending Moulton College’s Construction Future Skills event, showcasing how technology is used in construction, demonstrating Winvic’s BIM and our VR Health and Safety programme based on gaming technology.
“We recognise that having a diverse workforce is important to the future of the industry and so Winvic is dedicated to helping tackle future skills shortages by inspiring the next generation, proactively promoting the sector and encouraging diversity. It’s been great to talk to students to showcase what a vibrant, exciting industry construction is with a huge range of opportunities and great earning potential.”
Moulton College will be compiling a detailed report on the findings from the workshop session to be released later in the year.