What is automation good for?

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Automation tends to polarise opinions: either it’s the great saviour of construction or the rise of the machines threatens to de-skill professionals

Mark Farmer, chief executive officer of consultant Cast and trustee of charity MOBIE

Automation could create a skills mismatch if we don’t adapt

The UK economy’s productivity problem is a headache for politicians. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average US, French or German worker produces more by Thursday afternoon than the average British worker does in a week. 

There is lots of talk about “innovation maturity”, where some sectors that encountered high levels of productivity growth pre-2008 have now plateaued. But construction is clearly not one of those sectors that has gone through any form of a productivity or innovation phase and still represents low-hanging fruit for the application of technology and process improvement. Digital automation and augmentation of our industry’s current proliferation of labour-intensive, low-efficiency processes are now in the cross-hairs of tech start-ups, investors and entrepreneurs who rightly smell an opportunity.   

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