The Construction Game – Addressing the Skills Shortage via Play

The Construction Game – Addressing the Skills Shortage via Play

25th July 2019

Here at Safety Fabrications we’ve regularly brought our readers information about the skills shortage that presents such a huge challenge to the construction industry.  With more than 400,000 construction workers here in the UK predicted to retire by 2023, we desperately need to attract new blood into our sector.  This ageing workforce is not the only problem that we have to deal with right now – our industry has relied heavily in recent years on overseas construction workers to plug the gap.  However, with Brexit fast approaching and no deal in sight as yet, we’re likely to lose a large portion of our foreign workforce too. 

Several initiatives have been launched in order to encourage more school leavers and young people to consider a career in construction.  The Apprenticeship Programme is one such scheme that has been working well in recent years, as we’ve reported in the past.  As the construction industry has increasingly adopted new technologies, this has opened up a number of new career options, most of which involve digital technology.  With technology being used in so many aspects of our daily lives, the construction industry itself is becoming more high tech which means that new young workers will need to be pretty switched on when it comes to using computers and software. 

Luckily, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), the world’s largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership, has taken a novel approach to the need to train new workers for Britain’s building industry.  The CIOB has created a programme for 12- to 14-year olds which is integrated into the popular computer game, Minecraft.  “Craft Your Future” was designed specifically to encourage youngsters to consider a career in construction management, city planning and other construction careers.

The programme, in a series of four Minecraft Education Lessons, is free to download for teachers and is accessed via the Minecraft Education Platform.  Students (gamers) are challenged by a variety of problems that reflect the very real construction challenges that are being met in today’s cities.  The lessons take place in the virtual city of Newtown, and enable players to design, plan, collaborate and build solutions that develop a sustainable future for all residents of the city.  To add even more excitement and interest, the exercises also include some real-life scenarios, such as the challenge of restoring Battersea Power Station.

When the “Craft Your Future” programme was released, Minecraft Education was already being successfully used in schools to teach architecture, computer science programming, chemistry and physics.  The CIOB lessons run between 3 – 6 hours, with groups of students, divided into teams of 3 or 4, collaborating on lessons covering four areas of construction:

  • New Build
  • Restoration
  • Refurbishment
  • Maintenance

Despite attractive and successful initiatives like this, the construction industry is still experiencing a certain degree of reluctance when it comes to adopting and implementing the digital technologies that are vital to meeting future demands.