The six personas of offsite construction
New CITB report sets out six skills areas needed for the industry to deliver more offsite construction projects
Report from – Damien Carr
The ‘Faster, Smarter, More Efficient: Building Skills for Offsite Construction’ report commissioned by the Department for Education following last year’s Farmer Review, identifies the opportunities that offsite construction brings to the housing and commercial sectors in particular, but critically the gaps in training and skills.
A survey of 1,248 construction employers carried out by the CITB ahead of the report showed there was an overwhelming support for adopting offsite construction techniques. Of those employers with more than 100 employers, 42% said they expected their businesses to use offsite methods in 3-5 years’ time.
However, the report highlights an inadequately trained workforce as being the greatest threat to industry taking advantage of offsite construction: “The growth of offsite has seen a blurring of lines between manufacturing, engineering and construction, creating a need for new skills and redefining existing ones”.
With that in mind, the CITB has begun the process of redefining current roles by creating six personas:
1. Digital Design (Roles include BIM Technician, Architect, Design Engineer)
Designers will need a new range of digital capabilities, particularly Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the design function integrated into early stage planning with contractors and client.
2. Estimating/Commercial (Roles include Commercial Manager, Quantity Surveyor and Estimator)
Cost saving is one of the key advantages of offsite so the estimating function is crucial. Estimators must account for and have an understanding of materials used, transportation costs and risk factors.
3. Logistics (Roles include Signallers, Despatch Leader, Logistics/Plant Manager)
For offsite construction, logistics covers planning, transportation, scheduling, goods monitoring and supply chain management. Understanding different offsite methods and materials is important for enabling effective decision making and planning.
4. Offsite manufacture (Roles include multi-skilled trades, Welding Fabricator, Machinist, Project Manager, Factory manager)
Offsite manufacturing encompasses the creation of components, modules or entire buildings in a factory setting. This function requires technical skills, such as welding, joinery, pre-casting and steel fixing, already present in the construction workforce, plus product and process knowledge.
5. Onsite placement and assembly (Roles include: Groundworks, Crane Operator, Assembly Technician, Site Manager)
Onsite assembly often relies on existing core ‘tradespeople’ skills. However, additional skills are also required. For example, a crane operator needs new skills in handling much larger, unstable pre-manufactured loads.
6. Site management and integration (Roles include: Site Manager, Project Manager. Logistics Manager)
The role hinges on being able to integrate onsite and offsite functions in one project. For example, digital skills are needed to read and use BIM models, to help with correct sequencing and installation. Quality assurance skills and behaviours are also important.
The CITB also identified areas that were preventing the provision training for these personas. These included a shortage of qualified training providers and assessors, plus a lack of offsite content in existing training courses; and a lack of awareness of available courses, resulting in non-standard in-house training.
“Successful offsite management hinges on the effective integration of both onsite and offsite functions – and this requires a comprehensive understanding of both aspects,” said Steve Radley, CITB’s Director of Policy. “Our next steps will focus on the delivery of the required employer training, knowledge and soft skills, tailored specifically to the six key areas identified in the report,” he added.
Read the full report, including CITB recommendations and Persona infographics.