Graham Kelly on emerging Construction Technology career opportunities
Q1: WHY THERE IS A NEED?
McKinsey’s report on reimagining construction highlights that low productivity in construction is costing the global economy $1.6 trillion per year. Labour-productivity growth in construction has averaged only 1 percent a year over the past two decades, compared with growth of 2.8 percent for the total world economy and 3.6 percent in the case of manufacturing.
Due to this massive gap, investors have woken up to the opportunities within construction, with US VC’s alone investing $3.1 billion in 2018, which is four times that of the previous year. This investment trend is likely to continue.
Despite this huge investment increase, there is a worry that we are now trying to add technology on top of a broken/unproductive industry, rather than using technology to solve some of the industries biggest problems.
Q2: WHAT IS THE OPPORTUNITY?
In order to ensure that technology has the biggest impact on the productivity of the industry, it is vital that a strong understanding of the industry is incorporated into the development of any technology. If organisations can pair construction experience with software development talent, there is an opportunity to make real changes.
The industry has been at the bottom of the productivity charts for decades, the evolution to a technology driven industry is going to take time. If organisations can develop technology that solves some of the current issues, quick wins, clients and the supply chain will start to see the benefit, meaning more investment will be made, increasing career opportunities in this space.
Q3: WHERE WILL THE CAREER OPPORTUNITIES BE?
Most of the large consultancies have been quietly building teams of developers and data scientists, in order to offer new innovative services. However, most of the clients and supply chain are still further behind. There will be opportunities for developer and data skill across the whole built environment.
There is also a thriving construction technology start up community, that is going to continue to grow to match the appetite for investment.
Q4: WHAT SKILLS WILL BE IN DEMAND?
Software development and data science skills are currently the most desirable as organisations start to look to upskill their current employee base. But the people who are going to thrive the quickest are those with both knowledge of technology and the construction industry, these people are few and far between currently but are vital in transforming the industry. Anyone who can understand the intricacies of the construction industry and create technology that might solve this will be incredibly valuable in years to come.
Q5: WHO SHOULD I BE JOINING?
BIM Academy is always looking for visionaries in this space that can help to optimise the built environment through leading edge technology.
The start-up community is thriving and could be a fantastic place for a talented developer to carve out a career. For example Buildstream are a fantastic start-up who are currently looking to build a team and would provide talented developers with the opportunity to join a start-up at the very early stage where equity in the business is still available.
Some of the biggest opportunities are for clients to employ this skillset. With the likes of Thames Tideway, Crossrail, HS2 and TFL already trailblazing, it is sure to proliferate throughout the industry.