The Skills Crisis – Does Offsite Have all the Answers?
The growing shortage of traditional construction skills isn’t a problem that’s going away any time soon. We simply have too many homes, schools and commercial buildings to create and too many bricklayers, plasterers and carpenters approaching retirement.
A simple (or perhaps simplistic) answer is to build differently. If we use methods that rely less on traditional skills, the skills crisis is no longer a crisis.
Naturally, complex issues such as the way we create the built environment aren’t so easily swept away. Even if offsite construction is a large and essential part of the answer (as we believe it is), there is work needed to turn the potential into reality.
The Right Skills
The offsite industry also needs skills; it’s just that our skills needs are different. We are competing with well paid roles in manufacturing and engineering businesses. The awareness among those people of opportunities in construction is probably not great. We need specific construction industry training programmes to help people transfer their skills.
We also need to convince larger numbers of younger people that designing real buildings that real people will live and work in is as much fun and more worthwhile than designing imaginary environments in computer games. Specific construction apprenticeship programmes are needed as a pathway into offsite for people with IT and design skills.
Right now the offsite industry does not have the capacity to fill the productivity gap that the lack of traditional skills is creating.
The solution isn’t just more and larger manufacturing plants, it’s also having more people with advanced skills such as lean manufacturing, JIT, DfMA and TPM so that we can continue to deliver exceptionally high levels of quality at much greater volume.
The good news is that greater capacity, together with continuing innovation and efficiencies will drive down the costs of offsite even further.
Joined Up Project Delivery
Gains will be limited if we continue to perpetuate complex supply chains and multi-tiered subcontracting that make accountability and project delivery hard to manage. Architects also need to be better educated about offsite methods and opportunities.
Innovaré recognised that offsite was an opportunity to re-engineer project delivery as well as the product. Our design, manufacturing, delivery and installation teams are all in house to give seamless project control and communications.
While being very optimistic we are also realistic about what needs to happen for offsite to truly overcome the skills crisis. Just like our projects it demands, and is getting, careful planning and execution.
If you want to read more about how Innovaré offsite solutions are revolutionising how we think about construction you can read more here..