Mind The Gap

Rennie Chadwick, Director of Design and IT for Osborne talked to ‘Construction News’, this week  about a different kind of skills gap which the construction industry faces.

There is a widely reported and forecast shortage of skills in the Construction sector – this usually translates into the number of people employed and often focuses on the lack of skilled crafts or tradespeople.  Not to decry this issue, but there is another perspective – a different skills gap that hinders our ability to deliver customer satisfaction, improvements in productivity and value to the communities we operate in.  Do we really understand well enough, what drives value for our customers and then organise our resources to deliver it through capital and maintenance works?

Recognising this gap in the supply side of our industry, some customers have established benchmarks and driven improvements in their construction programmes as a consequence, e.g. Tesco in superstore development, McDonalds in their restaurants and The Education Funding Agency in schools building programmes. However, construction traditionally regards projects as sufficiently different that each is a ‘prototype’ and we then compound this by continuously disassembling teams at the end of a project and re-building new teams for new projects, losing much of the learning gained through the life of the project.

At Osborne, to overcome this, we are pursuing feedback to drive improvement through a combination of people, process and technology.  The process is informed by the move to deliver projects in a BIM environment. Structuring information and managing its use is a great means of achieving more efficient delivery and thereby improving our productivity but that’s only part of the story.

Combining the data, captured through the BIM process, with the people and technology elements is where we can really add value for our customers. We recognise that we need to get better at this and this is where some of the different skills gaps starts to appear.  To help fill that gap we are developing the consultative skills of our people, seeking to find out what drives success and value for our customer and their customers.  Some of this enquiry is shaped by the ‘Soft Landings’ process that is being promoted in tandem with BIM.  This needs enquiring minds, motivated to deliver improvement, to get the most out of the opportunity. Combining enquiring, motivated minds with rich, contextualised data will bring a new dimension to our business and the solutions we can provide to our customers.