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Job 4.0 – or: Why Bob takes his iPad to work

19.12.2016 | News
Some years from now, when we find ourselves reading Bob the Builder stories to our children and grandchildren, the accounts of how foremen and crane operators and construction workers do their jobs will have been rewritten from scratch. Digitisation is ringing in a revolution in the construction industry. Roles in construction as we know them today will undergo radical change. Here's the good news: there are going to be many exciting, totally new jobs.

Impressions

  • Jens Günther
The most noticeable change will be the way in which classic "construction work" is redefined. Instead of muscle power qualified activities in process control, now organisation and monitoring are taking over. There will be an increased demand for specialists with affinity for and know-how in the IT sector. Future generations will find it perfectly normal for jobsites to be characterised by construction robots and 3D printers. And for construction workers to use mobile devices to control all these processes.
So what should we be doing today to make sure that our people are qualified to operate tomorrow's tools correctly? How can we ensure that enough people on the payroll now and in the future are interested in this development and are ready and willing to acquire the necessary skills? How to go about finding the right training offering? And what should the industry be doing to push this development?

For years now, a great deal of painstaking work and considerable expenditure has gone into research and (further) development of new processes, technologies and materials for Planning and Construction 4.0. Against this background, it is important not to forget that the people who make up the workforce have to be qualified accordingly. Crucially, development of the technologies has to go hand in hand with development of the organisation, in other words, the two have to be in parallel and closely interlinked. And, most importantly, it all has to happen very soon. Because how useful are ultra-efficient technologies and the smartest tools if we are short of people able to use them?

Once we have switched to viewing a construction project as a process – from planning through construction and on to maintenance, rehabbing and ultimately demolition and disposal of the materials – then very soon BIM comes into the picture. Building Information Modelling is going to help us make this process considerably more economical. Thus economical aspects along with ecological are taken into account. Technologically speaking, this information system has long since progressed to the point where it is capable of mapping all construction and planning processes. So why is BIM still being used only here and there? My opinion is that the legislative framework for disclosure of all the process and cost data of each and every company with a stake in the construction of a building is incomplete as yet and that the companies who tender, plan and carry out construction work still do not employ enough people with BIM skills. That leaves it up to the companies themselves to become proactive and it is they who, sporadically and generally as the need arises, make the effort to find appropriately qualified personnel or else up-skill their own employees by sending them to suitable training courses – most of which are offerings from private-sector service providers. As yet, the demand for specialists in this field has not penetrated to any great extent through to third-level education and career training. Here again, it is up to us as an industry to take the initiative, approach institutions of higher education and proceed jointly to find ways and means of developing and pushing needs-oriented training models. Another source of impulse: the employer's liability associations in the framework of career training.

It is vital for us as a company to act on all this, because it is not just about defining career outlines and the associated qualifications. For us as a company, it is essential to enter into a dialogue with the training institutes to develop appropriate, demand-oriented training content.

The need for people who meet the requirements of a digital working environment was bound to catch up with us at some time, and that time is now. We, the Doka Group, are among those who are constantly on the look-out for good people. Because we have long been ready for this new concept: Formwork 4.0.

About Jens Günther:

The start of next year will see the 46-year-old taking over as Chairman of the Executive Board.

He is from Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, and along with the remits of Sales, Marketing and HR, Jens Günther will be pressing ahead with major initiatives – digitisation first and foremost – that in future will help ensure the formwork engineers, headquartered in Lower Austria's Amstetten, take their place among the global leaders of their industry. Before his move to Doka, graduate construction engineer and industry insider Jens Günther had worked for companies including Hochtief and ThyssenKrupp, where his last position was CEO, ThyssenKrupp Infrastructure.

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