What are the most pressing issues facing Construction and Utilities today and what should the sector be doing to prepare for the future?
Aptus Utilities’ directors Lisa Kerford and Natasha Clarke will appear in a TV programme on 1 April which examines this topic. ‘Engineering the Future’ features interviews with Aptus employees, apprentices and other industry professionals focusing on the challenges presented by skills shortages and technological advancement.
Addressing skills shortages is top of the agenda with an estimated 1.5 million new workers needed by 2021 to fulfil the government’s ambitious housing targets. In addition, technology is changing how infrastructure and housing are manufactured and built at a rapid rate. The construction of modular housing and prefabricated structures, for example, brings with it a more exigent need for changes in legislation that will allow utility companies to keep pace with housing delivery.
Aptus Utilities was formed during one of the worst economic recessions in our history, so company bosses knew firsthand the necessity of developing an agile business model fully equipped to manage unforeseen future economic change.
They also identified a gap in the training of industry professionals by existing utility companies and made it a priority to address this from the outset by making a firm commitment to train business apprentices and multi utility and jointing operatives. They have lived up to this pledge and are well on the way to creating a workforce trained in the ‘Aptus Way’ that will lead the company into the future.
Speaking in the programme Aptus Utilities Managing Director Lisa Kerford, said: “Rather than dealing with an immediate resource issue we’re looking at five, 10, 15 years hence when the existing workforce is probably getting nearer to retirement age, we’ve got a workforce there that’s been trained in the Aptus way with the Aptus mentality and hopefully will be the future leaders of the company.”
An image change and a more collaborative approach between private businesses, employers and educational and training bodies may provide some answers to the industry’s skills deficit by helping to raise awareness of job roles, appeal to younger people and improve diversity – and these are some of the solutions that are discussed in the programme.
Boosting the numbers of technologically skilled people entering the industry is also imperative for the sector to advance – but equally pressing is the need to increase the general knowledge and understanding of how new technologies work. Building Information Modelling, or BIM, for example, allows multiple parties working on a project to access the same real-time information which can aid communication, speed up processes and improve standards, promoting an overall more integrated approach.
Construction is worth more than £100 billion to the UK economy, contributing around seven per cent of GDP and providing around three million jobs. A greater synergy across the chain of delivery – from Government, construction, utilities and suppliers – is vital if the UK economy is to continue to compete on a global stage.
Engineering the Future airs at 10am on Sky digital channel 189, on Sunday 1 April, and following the broadcast will be available to view at www.executivetv.org. (First aired 11 March, 2018)