Buckinghamshire Business First held its fourth stakeholder engagement workshop last week, Construction Sector Digital Skills, to examine the opportunities and challenges for the digital transformation for the sector, as part of the Inno Industry initiative.

Buckinghamshire Business First has joined forces with nine countries in the EU to work jointly on the Inno Industry initiative, which seeks to better understand if and how current regional and national strategies are helping businesses to become more digitalised, or to use the jargon – prepare for the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ known as ‘industry 4.0’.

The workshop was run with the Construction Sector Employers Group and attended by over 20 stakeholders from across the construction industry in Bucks, with the aim of sharing best practice and knowledge relating to the benefits and challenges of advanced digital technology in the construction sector.

Heather Dean, Head of Skills and Business Support at Buckinghamshire Business First, said: “We were delighted to run this innovative workshop to identify the barriers and implications of the take up of new digital technologies for the construction sector. The enthusiasm and feedback of attendees at the event was very encouraging and we will continue to seek new ways to support our businesses to play a greater part in the 4th industrial revolution.”

The event included latest research in the trends and themes in the digital landscape of the construction sector, including; within Buckinghamshire, a noticeable digital skills gap, likewise with the national picture; SMEs and self-employed traders typically lack the resources needed to invest in skills and training, including digital skills; and growing local talent pipelines for required specialist skills relevant to construction, could raise competitiveness, productivity and profits, and unlock future innovation.

Attendees shared real world examples of digital innovation and best practice in the construction sector and discussed future opportunities that digitisation could create for the sector under the key drivers of productivity, sustainability/ zero carbon, inclusivity/ accessibility, and health and safety.

The event built a common understand around the opportunities and challenges to the adoption of digital technology in the sector, enabling Buckinghamshire Business First to better support businesses in this area.

The key aim of the Inno Industry project is to increase and support business clusters in relation to Industry 4.0, and to create a blueprint of best practice of the support required for businesses to take up new digital technologies, such as big data, robotics and artificial intelligence. In addition, the project partners aim to improve local, regional and national policies in order to increase the rate of clusters that develop activities to support digital transformation.

Heather added: “In Buckinghamshire we have strong business clusters, including high performance engineering, assistive technologies and the creative industries clustering around Pinewood Studios, which we are keen to support by taking full advantage of Industry 4.0 and its ethos of lifelong learning to prepare businesses for the digitalisation of the economy.”