PAUL MCCORMACK, INNOVATION MANAGER FOR BELFAST METROPOLITAN COLLEGE, CONTINUES HIS SERIES ABOUT HOW THE INDUSTRY CAN DEVELOP AND LEVERAGE DIGITAL SKILLS FOR ENERGY-EFFICIENT CONSTRUCTION AND IMPROVED COMPETITIVENESS... The need for upskillingwithin the industry
Paul McCormack, Innovation Manager for Belfast Metropolitan College.
T his is the fourth offering in a series of six articles specifically designed to inform, assist and signpost the built environment to embrace and engage on their digital transformation journey. The first part of the series focused on the digitalisation pathway and digital tools - including BIM - that the industry could avail of. The second part of the series (articles 4, 5 and 6) will look at navigating the pathway; securing the skills advantages, opportunities and challenges the industry faces in ramping their workforce up in order to navigate the digitalisation pathway to commercial growth and success. WHY? If industry is to develop and leverage their digital skills for energy-efficient construction and increase their competitiveness it will be driven via the skills of their workforce. Digitalisation is a game-changing strategy that will empower the construction sector to thrive and deliver the expertise for sustainable energy skills. This will be the tool to stimulate demand. There is a direct correlation between digitalisation and energy efficiency as highlighted in
the IEA energy efficiency conference in June 2019. Our society is in transition, leaving behind the old energy ineffective, material wasting and not always healthy built environment; moving towards an energy-efficient, healthy and material- sustainable built environment. At the same time, digital technology is transforming our lives at an accelerating pace. Digitalisation can be disorientating, standard contexts and work processes that we are all used to are changing – technologists call this ‘context collapse’. We need to be conscious that sustainable and lean construction is already a reality but we do not have sufficient skilled professionals and workers to make it become a ‘normal practice’. Furthermore, client and user awareness and implementation drivers are still lacking. Governments, particularly in the EU, are increasing their CO2 and energy efficiency regulations and raising their targets, following the EU strategies and policies for decarbonisation of the construction sector and approaching NZEBs. Digitalisation goes hand-in- hand with energy skills and provides a great opportunity to reduce the
environmental impact of construction projects. Digitalisation makes energy skills of construction workforce more effective, easier to improve and provides confirmable effects in rational and smart use of materials and energy. Currently we are at the ‘liminal’ stage between the old and the new (Liminality – comes from the Latin limen – meaning doorway of threshold). We need to upskill ourselves and our society in order to step through the doorway successfully and harvest the benefits in order to address the skills decline. Construction sector employees are also at the liminal threshold of energy transition and digitalisation. In order to successfully stimulate the demand for sustainable energy skills, we need to nudge and assist employees to adapt to digitalisation and apply it in the context of energy skills. HOW? This ‘skills transformation’ process can be achieved using digitalisation and the certification of “step by step” competences recognition as an accelerator to empower demand for energy skills. Unifying digital and energy construction skills and qualifications into
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