Offsite construction – prefabrication – has grown in recent years as the industry seeks to become more efficient. However, the further development of the offsite sector is considered to be at risk because it is being neglected by industry training initiatives.
That is one of the conclusions of a new report by the UK Commission for Employment & Skills, called Technology & skills in the construction industry.
Employers said that they considered the current training and qualification offer for offsite to be largely inadequate. There is fragmented provision and so companies generally create their own, bespoke, in-house training.
Researchers found that employers felt current training was inadequate on 3D drawing, site supervision, logistics and building information modelling (BIM).
Those most in demand in the offsite sector are project managers, schedulers, design staff and engineers. CAD and BIM specialists and quantity surveyors are also in high demand.
Helen Beck, research manager at the UK Commission for Employment & Skills, said: “Technological change and the drive towards innovative and low-carbon building methods present a major opportunity to build quicker, to a higher quality, more sustainably and compete on a global market. Indeed, the global construction market is forecast to grow by over 70% by 2025.
“Offsite construction requires skills that are different to those needed for traditional construction. In particular, offsite construction professionals need a greater understanding of the interaction between principles of design, construction, manufacturing and engineering. If the UK construction industry is to exploit the potential of offsite, multi-skilling, collaboration and greater flexibility within job roles is crucial.”
The report fails to shed light on the size offsite sector. It cites estimates that put its value at £1.5bn a year and at more than £6bn a year. “Due to the lack of a universal definition of offsite, estimating the scale and value of the offsite sector is extremely challenging,” it says.