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Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology


The construction industry plays a crucial role in enabling a thriving society by providing and maintaining buildings and infrastructure. However, the industry’s workforce faces particular challenges, including labour shortages – especially in specific trades, an ageing workforce, and difficulties recruiting young people. The sector is also slow to adopt new technologies and innovations. We need to collaborate to create an appealing working environment that attracts talented people into the industry and ensure that the workforce has the skills and competencies required to embrace new ways of working to deliver the outcomes needed in society.

Exploring key focus areas

To address the challenges of skills in the construction industry, there are a variety of initiatives across industry and academia tackling the issue from multiple fronts, for example:

  • Culture and attractiveness of industry: Improving construction’s reputation and promoting careers in construction as rewarding and attractive opportunities. Create an environment that attracts and supports workforce diversity and encourages new entrants into the construction sector.
  • Routes of entry: Ensure that the routes by which school leavers enter the industry are clear and accessible to a diverse and inclusive base, encouraging new entrants and creating suitable pathways into industry.
  • Skills required for a modern construction sector: Understand the knowledge, skills and experience that are required in industry with a move from a focus on qualification to competence, embracing lifelong learning.

Laing O'Rourke Centre research

The Laing O’Rourke Centre is working with the Construction Leadership Council’s sub-working group on ‘Skills for a Modernised Industry’ to deliver on the outcomes outlined in the Industry Skills Plan. Our academic research supports a robust understanding of the skills needed to enable the workforce to leverage digital tools and technologies, construction processes, and methodologies (such as off-site construction and automation) to deliver industry outcomes, focusing on net zero. The research also investigates how the skills needed in the workplace match the education and training provision.


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