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Blog - Introducing Terry Stocks

last modified Mar 08, 2018 01:48 PM
Terry Stocks leads the BIM L2 workstream within the Centre for Digital Built Britain programme. He makes the case for building the digital foundations to safeguard construction output.

"Building a Digital Built Britain requires modernising an industry that doesn’t simply build structures, but provides the environment in which we live and work. An industry that reduces climate change through more efficient built environment solutions – an industry that improves lives and provides opportunities for everyone and at every level."

Establishing level 2 BIM (Building Information Modelling) is essential in order to move to a digitally built and operated Britain. The construction industry, and the innovation we want to inject into it, faces big challenges; we must increase both the number of people and the skills of the professionals choosing construction as a career path. This is an ageing sector – the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) reports that 400,000 skilled workers will reach retirement age in the next 10 years. That’s in addition to the estimated 182,000 jobs needed in the sector over the next five years. The Q4 2017 RICS UK Construction Market Survey poll found more than 60 per cent of respondents thought the skills shortage would affect growth and output in the future.

These shortages will put pressure on plans for a high-performing construction industry that delivers significant growth. The UK Government has issued the revised Construction Strategy 2016 - 2020; the reinvigorated Construction Leadership Council is stewarding delivery of the Industrial Strategy for Construction (Construction 2025) and the 2016 Budget has allocated funding to develop the Centre for Digital Built Britain. These are encouragingly firm commitments to keep UK construction at the forefront of technology and improved output. However, if our skills don’t keep pace with these aspirations, we risk failing to meet the ambitious targets of better, quicker, cheaper, greener. Level 2 BIM provides the foundations to reach these targets. 

The UK Government’s bold move towards BIM has harnessed a catalyst for change igniting the  potential of data as the 'golden thread' that promotes numerous benefits: early discussion around delivery and construction options; early contractor and supplier engagement; and larger-scale use of Design for Manufacture (DFMA) and off-site solutions. This change challenges the employment status quo, moving away from traditional trade-based skill-sets, where there are significant shortages, to a growing technical requirement for BIM proficiency, logistics and manufacturing.

At the production end, DFMA uses a more diverse skill-set. A workforce equipped to handle modular off-site production and installation will require less specialist training and will enable the industry to better utilise its trained skilled workforce.

We need to promote construction to a wider community. Construction should be seen as a high-tech industry, with BIM, information management and 3D modelling introduced in school and college construction programmes, demonstrating the application of data analytics through the fast-growing Digital Built Britain, SMART Cities and smart building agendas. We must also promote construction to the non-specialist and part-time workforces, highlighting the opportunities presented by modern methods of construction (MMC) (offsite, modular and other lean construction manufacture approaches.) And, of course, we need the current specialist trades to continue undertaking project site works, testing and management of projects that use DFMA, and to provide the skills for the more traditional solutions that will still be required.

Building a Digital Built Britain requires modernising an industry that doesn’t simply build structures, but provides the environment in which we live and work. An industry that reduces climate change through more efficient built environment solutions – an industry that improves lives and provides opportunities for everyone and at every level.

Contact: Terry Stocks

Welcome to the Centre for Digital Built Britain.  

The Centre for Digital Built Britain is a partnership between the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of Cambridge to deliver a smart digital economy for infrastructure and construction for the future and transform the UK construction industry’s approach to the way we plan, build, maintain and use our social and economic infrastructure.