Research shows over half of companies believe that robotics or artificial intelligence could reduce the number of construction workers on site.
The research by the Construction Industry Federation found an optimism that advancement in technology does not necessarily mean a loss of jobs for the construction industry. Half of firms have invested in new technologies in the past 12 months, and more than 60% are planning to invest in new construction technology in the near future.
Technology might be an important part of construction in the future by necessity since young people are not entering the industry with around 40% of parents saying that they would not support their child’s decision to work in construction. The industry is reporting acute skills shortages in certain areas, so construction technology will play a significant role in ensuring the industry can deliver critical housing and infrastructure in the coming decades.
These results come after a recent CIF report on productivity, which showed that there was a 20% increase in investment in building and construction in 2018, with €26 billion invested during the year.
Tom Parlon, CIF Director General, said, "The future of construction is digital. It will improve productivity, AI can reduce workplace accidents, foster collaboration that makes us more efficient.
"People may be concerned about automation replacing workers, but construction technology will also future-proof jobs and enable radically new high-end careers. By supporting our workforce and embracing technology our construction workers can stay relevant and develop rewarding careers," he said.
Sean Downey, CIF Director, Specialist Constracting, said, "With the development of a National Digital Centre of Excellence about to be launched, Digicon 2019 promises to provide industry stakeholders, contractors, developers and the entire supply chain with a snapshot of where we are as an industry in our digital journey. Our expectation is that digital transformation will no doubt help answer some of the productivity challenges that exist, but we need all parties to the project including clients to truly come on board."
Considerable progress has been made in the past couple of years in the implementation of the "Roadmap to Digital transition". The recent launch of the BIM Starter Pack by the CIF Construction 4.0 Committee is another step in the sector’s digital transition.
The next important stage will be the establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Digital Construction in the coming months.