Skills shortages are hampering today’s construction projects across the UK, and forecasts in the key industry reports suggest the problem will persist will into the next decade without concerted action. It is timely, therefore, that the Ethos-led and Innovate UK-funded SkillsPlanner research and development project mobilised in October 2015.
Data-powered approach to addressing the construction skills shortage
SkillsPlanner will be a highly innovative, truly collaborative, data-powered approach to addressing the construction industry skills shortage. Its ambition is to help ensure that the UK has the right people, with the right skills, in the right places, at the right time.
It will provide a live, accessible and user-friendly data platform that aims to make ‘real time’ skills data visible to multiple stakeholders. Crucially, it is being built jointly by future users for wider industry adoption.
Help people share skills data
The Ethos-led partnership was successful in the Innovate UK competition, ‘Solving Urban Challenges Through Data’, and was awarded a grant to conduct a Collaborative Research and Development project, which started formally on 1 October 2015. The partnership is made up of:
- Association of Colleges
- Camden, Islington and Westminster councils
- University of Plymouth
SkillsPlanner aims to help industry, employers, councils, trainers and, ultimately, individual workers to collaborate in sharing data to enable effective planning for future employment needs.
Provide a valuable ’real time’ picture of the skills landscape
It will be based on a cutting edge linked and open data platform that can aggregate, integrate and analyse skills data from a variety of sources to provide a valuable ’real time’ picture of the skills landscape, mapping industry demand against current training provision.
It will help organisations address the skills gaps identified by research including the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry/KPMG 2014 report ‘Skills to Build’ and the September 2015 National Infrastructure Plan for Skills, and it is perhaps significant that we are connecting data to infrastructure needs.
Government is supporting construction sector to become data-driven
Our world is becoming increasingly data-driven, and government and industry organisations are beginning to adapt to these changes. In construction, for example, there has been a strong push to get government projects delivered using data-centric building information modelling processes, mandatory from April 2016.
We have also been encouraged that the Open Data Institute is urging government to consider data as infrastructure that is fundamental to the operation of a modern society and its economy. In an open letter to the chairman of the new UK Infrastructure Commission in December, the ODI and the Royal Statistical Society say:
We are not currently treating data as infrastructure. We are not giving it the same importance as our road, railway and energy networks were given in the industrial revolution and are still given now. We risk seeing data only as a tool for transparency when it should also be an engine of efficiency and growth.
We want SkillsPlanner to be scalable and replicable across sectors
We like this ambition, and it fits with our (more modest) ambitions for SkillsPlanner. We want this data platform to harness the power of linked and open data and be scalable and replicable across many industry sectors - improving the match of skills to jobs, reducing unemployment, increasing local labour supply, and enabling training provision to be responsive to industry needs.
Follow Rebecca Lovelace, SkillsPlanner project director, Ethos VO Ltd on Twitter: @Circle_Three
Follow SkillsPlanner on Twitter: @SkillsPlannerUK
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