Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building

Opinion

How construction can invest wisely in technology

8 September 2020 | By Gareth Randle

Gareth Randle examines a roadmap to innovation in post-covid UK construction 

Construction was one of the first industries that returned to work during the covid-19 pandemic. The key to the sector bouncing back to full strength will be adaptations, not just to personal protective equipment (PPE) and health and safety, but to improved ways of working too. 

Modern construction technologies can help in the short term with improved productivity and, in the long term, encourage more young people to the sector to address its skills gap. 

Lockdown has swiftly revolutionised how we work; it has exposed the vitally important role that technology plays across all industries – including construction. 

While the sector was one of the first to get back to work out of necessity, more construction firms than ever before have found new, agile and innovative ways for their workforce to be able to plan, design, build and deliver.

Construction firms which had invested in technology before the pandemic are likely to be far more financially robust and resilient today than those still using outdated construction methods and techniques. 

However, many construction firms often don’t feel ready to revolutionise the workplace, as they’re already working to tight budgets and margins. 

And yet, if they can innovate now, and invest in the right skillsets, then they can futureproof themselves even as economic stormclouds gather. 

Even now, the government’s research and development (R&D) tax incentives can provide construction firms with the funding needed to embrace cutting-edge technologies – like machine learning and automation, which will see many repetitive low-skill jobs on site replaced, and existing job roles adapted to become more fluid, efficient and dynamic. 

The construction industry therefore needs to recruit from a broader talent pool which should include tech-savvy problem-solvers. 

That will reposition the sector as a desirable career to attract the right talent by highlighting the changing face of the industry.  

Gareth Randle is a specialist at R&D tax credit consultancy ForrestBrown

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