Next industrial revolution set to transform more than half a million construction jobs

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  Posted by: electime      1st November 2017

The construction industry could see more than 600,000 jobs automated and workers re-skilled for new roles by 2040, according to Mace.

The research has been published as part of Mace’s latest Insights report, entitled ‘Moving to Industry 4.0: A skills revolution’.

Industry 4.0 is the collective term for a range of technologies, such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and robotics, that experts believe represent a new ‘industrial revolution’.

The report argues that the figures – although only projections – give a sense of the scale of the talent pool that will need to be re-skilled to allow the construction sector to move to Industry 4.0 and embrace productivity-improving technologies.

Mace warns that without a major effort to reskill the current workforce and attract a new generation of more tech savvy workers, the construction industry and the UK will lose out on the potential productivity benefits of the next industrial revolution.

The construction sector has long suffered from a productivity gap, where it has failed to match the productivity gains seen in other UK industries. If it was able to properly move to Industry 4.0 and capture just half of the gains made elsewhere in the wider economy it could deliver an extra £25bn a year to the UK by 2040.

Improving productivity in the construction sector would also have a knock-on effect on UK housebuilding and infrastructure delivery, helping to alleviate the housing shortage and ensure that major infrastructure projects are more likely to be delivered on-time and within budget.

Following Mace’s research, Schneider Electric’s Martin Walder, VP Industry, said humans are still very much at the forefront of the UK’s industrial innovation.

He said: “The urgent need for infrastructure and house building to satisfy a burgeoning population isn’t new. What is key for AI, robotics and automation to help meet demand is human-robot collaboration.

“Developments in dexterity, reliability and flexibility through machine ability to conduct precise and repeatable operations need to be combined with human skills and operability – the ability to see, feel, touch and think.

“These real-world “cobotics” settings will achieve significant economic and resource efficiencies by tackling complex tasks faster and safer.

“We still need machines in this human-machine construction interface; we need them to do the “dirty” work – the manual and often the most dangerous or monotonous tasks so we can keep our workforces safe. Our longevity relies on optimal collaboration and with greater control to realise true benefits in terms of safety and profitability.”