Demand for construction trade workers should continue through 2030, according to "The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030," a report based on a study conducted by Pearson, Nesta and Oxford University.
The aging of existing workers out of the workforce, urbanization and globalization will keep demand for trades high while positions for jobs like construction supervisors will decrease.
The report recommends construction companies concentrate their training efforts on jobs that cannot be automated and prepare for a future in which labor will be augmented by machines.
Technological advances in construction have triggered fears among workers that robots or some other form of automation will replace them in their jobs. But conditions on a construction project are not the same as the ones that have enabled industries like manufacturing to benefit from automation. Specifically, the unique nature of construction projects will prevent the kind of assembly-line production that manufacturing uses to reduce labor costs.
But there have been strides in construction automation, and one that has received a lot of attention in the press lately is the bricklaying robot. The Hadrian X, manufactured by Australian company Fastbrick Robotics, is a truck-mounted arm that can lay up to 1,000 bricks per hour. Heavy equipment company Caterpillar announced a $2 million investment in the company in July with the potential to invest another $8 million.
3-D printing is another technology the industry is watching. It has been tested in fits and starts, but the promise of mass production for large-scale components and assemblies has not been fully realized. Chinese company WinSun printed and assembled fully functional bathrooms at Da Yang Mountain in Suzhou, China, last year, while a team in Dubai 3-D printed the world's first such office building.
Dubai announced plans to 3-D print 25% of all buildings there by 2030 as part of the Dubai Future Agenda. Dubai officials have estimated that the 3-D printing industry will contribute $300 billion to the world's economy by 2025.