Construction Skills: We’re in the Endgame Now
25th April 2019
The wait is over, the Avengers are finally here and the endgame is upon us at last. The trouble is – the UK construction industry was facing a crisis even before Thanos snapped half of us to ashes.
While mumbling purple giants with golden god-gloves are taking up most of the planet’s headlines these days, it’s worth remembering that some of us still have to live here. Thanos’ snappy solution is only a stopgap, and England alone’s still going to need 300,000 new homes a year to keep up with demand. With an ageing workforce and far too little new blood entering the building trade, it’s going to take a lot more than quantum time vortexes and talking racoons to fix this mess.
Will Technology Save Us?
Well, we certainly need to be looking a lot more closely at technology. Back when that whole “Mandarin” business was going on in the US a few years back, Tony Stark effectively automated a whole army of Iron Man suits to save the President – all controlled centrally by a single computer. More recently, he’s been forging ahead with modular, off-site technologies like his new self-repairing nano-armour variants. Construction’s always been ahead of the innovation game (see our RIFT Research and Development site to check if your ideas are worth money) when it comes to new technologies and materials (Wakandan vibranium, anyone?).
However, the industry’s still stubbornly non-digital in far too many important respects.There’s a generation of science-whizz kids out there growing up in a world of Artificial Intelligence and aerial drones – and we’re not speaking their language nearly well enough. We need to open up the idea of what construction’s all about, and what opportunities it can offer.
Are The Children Our Future?
When Stark took young up-and-comer Peter Parker on for an internship, he wasn’t doing it out of charity. He was making an investment. Stark, in his own way, is a builder – an architect. He understands that the future starts now, and it needs the strongest possible foundations to survive.
Only 3% of young people have even considered construction as a worthwhile career choice. Despite the huge range of fields the industry comprises, we’re not getting the message out strongly enough.
So, yes – mechanised exoskeletons, 3D printing and autonomous survey drones definitely have major parts to play in tomorrow’s construction landscape. Right now, though, it’s all about people.
Do We Need New Blood On The Team?
Every year, it seems like the Avengers roster expands. They’ve brought in super-soldiers, gamma-ray mutants, wizards, alien cyborgs, talking trees and even significant mythological entities to date. In other words, they’re casting the broadest possible net.
In comparison, construction’s job seems pretty simple. All it’s really got to do is stop routinely slamming its doors in women’s faces. After all, you wouldn’t want to be the one to tell Black Widow she should settle for a dead-end admin position. Come to think of it, the last time someone tried to limit Scarlet Witch’s prospects there was practically a Civil War! The lack of diversity in the UK construction workforce is more than just an embarrassment. It’s a key choke point keeping crucial talent out of the game just when we need it most.
Will We Win?
The building trade’s so much more than hard hats and heavy lifting. Technology’s making the modern building site safer and less physically challenging every year.
More to the point, it’s massively expanding the range of skills the industry’s open to. As a Strange man once said, there are 14 million possible ways the skills shortfall crisis could shake out in the coming years. Let’s pick the one where we win.
If you want a small victory right now - check if you're due a tax refund from HMRC. Tax refunds are up 9% on last year, and if you've not claimed before you could be due an average of over £2,500.