Caroline Evans is the corporate strategy director for Arden University
The UK workforce is about to have a rude awakening. Research suggests that by 2030, 30 per cent of all jobs here could be eradicated due to automation. For the construction industry, this means more than half a million jobs could be lost. In addition, our 2030 Workforce Report found that 20 per cent of people working in the construction sector feel they have a digital skills gap and aren’t prepared for the technological changes at hand.
With digital technology playing an increasingly prominent role in most jobs, the construction industry has already felt the impact of digital growth, with high numbers of people leaving the sector to make better use of their skills in other industries that adapt more quickly to change.
To fill the digital skills gap, employers should give their employees the opportunity to learn the new skills the construction sector is demanding. From data analysts to software application developers and machine-learning specialists, it is now up to educational institutions and businesses to work together to upskill and develop their workforces, not solely for the jobs of today, but for the future. This involves supporting workers to adopt a growth mindset.
The power of a growth mindset
As the realities of the pandemic unfurled, many individuals came to feel a desire, or a need, to retrain, redevelop and keep learning. For some, it was about wanting more from their working life; for others, a matter of necessity, as their industries ground to a halt. Either way, the upshot is that the capacity to keep on learning throughout one’s career and life is now recognised as one of the most critical capabilities in any organisation.
“To teach the adaptable mindset that businesses require, employers need to work with higher education institutions to fill in the skills they need”
Even in roles that are seen as stable and unlikely to be eliminated by the progression of automation and digitalisation, the need to constantly be able to learn new technologies and ways of working have become essential skills at every level. As one chief executive recently put it: “CEOs need to stop being know-it-alls and become learn-it-alls.”
Once the preserve of behavioural and organisational psychologists, growth mindset is now broadly recognised across the business world. It’s about maintaining the belief that basic abilities are not fixed and that intelligence can be developed over time; it means your abilities and successes can improve with continued resilience, effort and learning.
To teach the adaptable mindset that businesses require, employers need to work with higher education institutions to fill in the skills they need. The need for personalised education is vital, as well as courses that teach ‘human’ skills.
How learners react when they are faced with challenges in their learning is determined by their mindset; by giving them practical tasks, they will have the opportunity to improve and develop their knowledge, skills and abilities with effort and good strategies. Teaching the growth mindset and allowing learners to develop interpersonal skills requires practical assessments that replicate the tasks learners will be given in their working career. This could be in the form of digital simulations, which expose learners to the real issues they will face in their job, or practical business strategies that are implemented, trialled and tested out.
Whether employers in the construction sector want to train offsite workers to learn digital tools or onsite workers to understand data analytics, the need to be able to apply these skills is vital. For construction in particular, workers will also need to adapt quickly to the advancements and benefits that come with technology, if the industry wants to keep up with the demands of the labour market.
Corporate learning schemes help employees gain the skills their organisation requires, but we need engagement and a growth mindset from workers and employers to make a change.
In the current age, where developments are occurring rapidly, resulting in the labour market evolving at a quicker pace, more educational institutions need to offer tailored learning for businesses. This also means that more organisations within the construction industry also need to seek out personalised education for their employees when considering ways to survive in this tough labour market.