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Construction tackles digital transformation head on


Britain’s construction bosses and their suppliers are the target of a new programme that will bring their businesses up to speed on applying digital technology, so improving productivity and profitability.

The new CITB-funded scheme, ‘Giving leaders the skills to drive digital transformation’, aims to train up to 2,000 construction industry leaders – at least half of them from SMEs - from across England, Scotland and Wales in bringing the latest technology to the sector.

Six projects will train construction leaders in the skills needed to embed digital practices throughout their businesses, by creating internal digital champions and engaging supply chains. 

The training will encourage firms to develop diagnostic tools to identify and assess their existing digital skills. The courses will offer teaching materials, modules and mentoring schemes. 

The six project leads are: the National Federation of Builders, Willmott Dixon, Setting Out For Construction, Supply Chain School, Leeds Beckett University and the Gloucestershire Construction Training Group.

Over the next three years the Supply Chain School – together with the Tideway alliance and its main contractors, and Costain and Skanska – will harness the lessons learnt from London’s £3.8bn super sewer to upskill leaders and managers. The outcome will be their ability to develop a digital approach to their activities. Half will be SMEs from across the infrastructure sector. 

Jeremy Galpin, Digital Champion and Legacy Lead for Tideway East, said: “The Downloading of a Digital Mindset programme is an exciting opportunity for us to drive increasing digital maturity across the project as well as share our learning, learn from others and deliver a digital legacy for the industry”.

Willmott Dixon will be using blockchain in its project with a decentralised database called distributed ledger technology (DLT). This results in cost savings by cutting fraud and error. 

Gloucestershire Training Group will help SME leaders identify digital solutions to reduce waste and improve efficiency.

Digital technologies can help save time and improve productivity by enabling onsite employees to go digital, saving hundreds of hours in manual data entry with documents such as timesheets, expenses claims and work records.

Marcus Bennett, CITB Future Skills and Innovation Lead, said: “CITB is supporting the construction industry in understanding the potential savings and productivity benefits of digitalisation, as well as embedding digital practice across businesses, especially for smaller firms. Margins are strained and wage costs going up, so it’s vital to make use of technologies that relieve these pressures.

“The CITB research report, ‘Unlocking construction’s digital future: A skills plan for Industry’, has found that technology-specific skills aren’t the problem – the broader skills and competencies at various levels need to be addressed.” 

Other research consistently shows that leadership buy-in is essential to ensure that construction shares in the transformative productivity benefits of digital technologies, adopted by other industries years ago.

For more information, visit the commission page on the CITB website. 

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