Coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to escalate rapidly, and the impact on businesses across the UK construction industry, many of them SMEs, is proving to be dramatic and unavoidable. Huge risks from both supply and demand threaten growth in the industry with GlobalData forecasting the UK’s construction industry to contract by -2.5% in 2020. However, this downtime in the industry could prove to be an opportunity for the industry to fully embrace new technology, collaborative tools, and skills that embody building information modelling (BIM).

BIM gathers information relating to design, functionality, and life span in forms which can be shared between all participants, improving project speed, efficiency and management. BIM’s use is becoming more widespread, because it improves collaboration across participants and project management, and, in some countries, it is a requirement of public sector projects. In the UK, all government projects require the mandatory use of BIM Level 2. The UK government plans to advance to Level 3 BIM adoption, which involves a single, online project model with construction sequencing, cost and life-cycle management information.

BIM implementation offers upskill opportunities

The implementation of BIM not only demands extensive IT infrastructure to deploy computer-aided design, modelling, and collaborative tools, but also requires a shift in employee mindset to embrace these techniques in all construction processes. During a time where an estimated one in five construction sites in the UK have been closed and financial concerns may force firms into furloughing staff, there is an opportunity to upskill workers who might otherwise be sitting idle at home. The productive use of this time could improve the digital readiness of a company’s workforce and help future proof enterprises for the digital future of the construction industry.

Instead of seeing this time as a period to scale-down and streamline the workforce, those enterprises that can, should invest in the digital skills required to succeed in construction’s digital future.

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