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Contractors to tackle skills shortages in offsite construction sector

Laing O’Rourke and Skanska are among five employers working with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to address skills shortages in offsite construction.

According to Construction News, UKCES is investing £630,000 in five employer-led projects to find innovative ways of tackling the skills shortage in offsite construction, which accounts for 7 per cent of total construction output in the UK and is worth over £1.5bn to the economy.

Laing O’Rourke will analyse the delivery of a live project using offsite manufacturing to identify skills gaps. It will then develop training solutions that will fit the needs of the industry in the future.

Skanska will create an offsite construction school offering online training and a resource library to cover common skills gaps such as project management, design and IT skills to manage the offsite and onsite environment.

It will also encourage proficiency with the digital process covering the design, construction and operation processes to increase productivity.

The pilot schemes are part of the first competition in the UK Futures programme, an ongoing government-backed initiative to encourage innovative employer-led solutions to long-standing or emerging skills issues.

The Steel Construction Institute, Edinburgh Napier University and campaigning organisation Buildoffsite are also leading projects to address skills shortages.

SCI will help those working with light steel and modular construction technologies to achieve high standards of operation by collecting and sharing good practice information on different construction systems, as well as designing training and guidance on site management.

Edinburgh Napier University will create an offsite construction hub to define skill requirements and promote collaboration between professions, in collaboration with Heriot Watt University, Stewart Milne and CCG Construction.

Buildoffsite will lead a comparator project to improve the way offsite and onsite solutions are compared in terms of whole-life costs and sustainability, and to facilitate the early introduction of the process, encouraging surveyors, architects and engineers to consider offsite alternatives.

UKCES said offsite technologies have the potential to address challenges including the need for new housing, and also to increase jobs and economic growth in the construction and manufacturing industries.

UKCES commissioner and former chair of the McAvoy Group Bill McGinnis said: “These five projects are set to lead the way in tackling offsite construction skills shortages.

“In collaboration with partners, and with each other, employers are using innovative solutions to develop high-quality training and implement learning across the sector.

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