Construction is big business and continues to grow. In the next five years we expect 232,000 jobs to be created within the industry.
Many of these will be using new and exciting techniques, technologies and materials to create buildings that are smart, sustainable and energy efficient.
There are new technologies being introduced to survey and maintain existing structures too; the use of aerial drones for survey and analysis of buildings, virtual reality to design and visualise structures and 3D printers to create everything from individual building blocks to an entire house.
You could be part of this cutting-edge industry and discover why construction is a career like no other. Keep reading to find out more about these new and emerging skills.
The very latest technologies are being used to visualise, design and build amazing structures. Digital technology is increasingly used to construct buildings as 3D-models before they are built in reality. Building Information Modelling (BIM) enables a structure to be virtually modelled from its conception right through to the management of the building once complete. 'Virtual Reality' and 'Augmented Reality' are widely used as part of the design process to allow a BIM model to be experienced and analysed in a computerised 3D environment.
We are finding new ways to use materials like glass, steel and concrete creating outstanding iconic buildings such as the Shard in London, one of the tallest buildings in the world which required some extreme construction engineering techniques, such as top-down construction which allowed the upper floors and the basements to be worked on at the same time.
The Millennium Stadium in Wales can seat 74,000 people - the population of a medium sized town
Advanced manufacturing techniques are used increasingly in construction; many buildings and building components are now ‘prefabricated’ in factories, often using robotics to ensure that each section of the structure fits with the others exactly. This kind of off-site manufacture means that buildings can be fitted out with electrical and heating services in the factory and even delivered to site fully decorated; ready to ‘plug in and go’!
Buildings also need to be built to government rules and regulations that help to ensure that they are environmentally friendly; using as little energy and water as possible to help reduce carbon emissions, reduce global warming and conserve precious natural resources. Many buildings already make use of recycled rainwater and have ‘living’ roofs, designed not only to reduce the use of natural resources but also encourage important wildlife. We need to be forward thinking in protecting our environment and ensure we construct buildings that will be healthy and comfortable places to live and work many years into the future.
This video from The Institution of Structural Engineers highlights some incredible buildings and structures that have been created in the UK using new and innovative materials and techniques.
With kind permission from The Institution of Structural Engineers.
The new and emerging skills within the construction industry are changing the face of the industry and the requirements within it. However there is still great demand for traditional skills such as brick working, carpentry, iron and steel working. There are around six million buildings over a hundred years old in the UK and many of these are our cherished heritage buildings, such as castles, stately homes and landmark, historic bridges, which will always require skilled people to maintain and repair them.
The changing nature of construction means that a wider set of skills, including those from different disciplines, are increasingly in demand. For example roofers can now gain the skills and qualifications to fix solar panels and plumbers are learning to install environmentally-friendly heating systems that rely on renewable energy sources such as biomass and ground-sourced heat.
The largest warehouse in Britain (and the third largest in the world) is in Bristol. With a floor-space of 80,000m, it could contain 14,000 double-decker buses.
Some of the new and emerging job roles such as robotics engineer, assembly technician, 3D visualiser and drones pilot are using more innovative methods to train: from 'Virtual Reality' headsets which allow you to perform simulated tasks in low-risk environments to game-based courses that provide more engaging and flexible ways to learn and gain relevent skills and qualifications.
As every aspect of the construction process harnesses new techniques and technologies we increasingly need forward thinking people who would like to be at the cutting edge of construction’s innovation revolution.
Construction is a career like no other.
Government rules on energy efficiency, carbon and water use mean that the technology around them is always changing. To meet these targets, employers are looking into energy-saving processes like the German Passivehaus system which is still in development.
Keeping your skills up to date doesn’t have to be time-consuming or even take you away from the job in some situations. Many employers are happy to run training workshops and there are organisations out there dedicated to new skills.