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Bridging Construction Industry Academia gap

August 3, 2022


The construction industry is one of the largest contributors to employment and economic growth in the world. The industry is growing faster than ever, due to the increase in population and the need for affordable housing, infrastructure, and facilities for all. The construction industry will continue to increase in its importance as the growth in any other industry will all be possible, when there are offices, schools, healthcare, factories, roads and bridges, etc built for running their operations.

Market Scenario

It is estimated that the global construction industry revenue will be about 16 Trillion USD, Growing at a CAGR of 7% and the Indian market would be around 1.4 Trillion, by 2025.

In 2020, the Indian construction industry stood at around 6.5 Bn in revenue. So you can imagine the extent of the industry and thereby opportunities that are available for improvement in the way it is delivered. It becomes essential for the workforce — contributors across the lifecycle of a building or infrastructure — initiation, planning, execution, procurement, and supply chain, handover, and operations- to be looking at each activity in a perspective where efficiency and productivity can be enhanced.

Despite the significance and ample opportunities to develop businesses and careers around it, the industry is still one of the least productive. It has undergone very little to no transformation in terms of infusing new technologies and execution processes, automation, and streamlining the supply chain, to name a few. All these, are due to inadequate availability of skilled manpower, engineering applications, and innovation-driven design thinking.

Graphical representation of labor-productivity growth

Education and its role

One of the fundamental factors that impact development- whether it is an industry, a city, a country, or the whole world, is human resource capabilities. This capability is undeniably impacted by the level and quality of education that one has received. It becomes an absolute necessity for the involved people to gain the required skill sets in their respective fields and contribute to the overall efficiency of the project.

It takes us back to the fundamental human right, education for all. Humanity has come a long way and literacy rates have increased over the time. It now needs to address the gaps that persist, that exist between the challenges in the industry and the skill sets that a fresh graduate has. The current education system is outdated and the traditional education practices are not sufficing the need of the hour. There is a great need in terms of streamline the curriculum and customize it better to suit the expectations in the market.

Every graduate after entering into the “real world” has experienced this. This is the same reason, we have been seeing a lot of Ed-Tech Startups that have and are becoming Unicorns. A startup or conventional schools and Universities, need to constantly engage with industrial experts to gather essential areas of study, to incorporate into their curriculum, and ready the students for real-world challenges exposure. We see many students spending a lot of money after their professional graduation to seek job opportunities and tend to settle for any job they are able to easily secure. This, in the long run, affects their approach to work and loses their interest, openness to innovation, and creativity in their career. Moreover, when someone speaks of the construction industry, people limit the possibilities to people from Civil engineering or architecture stream of studies. The perspective does not extend its horizon to students from mechanical and allied streams, electrical, Electronics & Communication, and Computer Science allied streams, etc, and reduces the opportunities for young minds to build excellent careers in their core fields, where they can apply their education. Complex buildings that need new innovative, fresh perspectives to resolve challenges, need these out-of-the-box thinkers to apply their minds.

Opportunities in the industry for all

As mentioned above, whenever people hear about the construction industry they limit themselves to Civil and Architectural people, but actually, it’s beyond that. Civil and Architectural people can build excellent careers for sure, there is no doubt. Along with it, there are various opportunities that demand skill sets and people from different fields such as Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Instrumentation, Materials, Robotics and Computer science engineering, etc. People who have interdisciplinary knowledge and skills are in more demand nowadays as the industry undergoes digital transformation.

Mechanical engineers can pursue careers in the services of HVAC, piping, fire protection designing, building, establishing, and maintaining all kinds of mechanical machinery, tools, and components.

Electrical and Electronics engineers have huge scope in designing and assisting the installation of electrical and electronic systems, building automation systems, smart components, sensors, and IoT devices for different types of structures for various functions.

As the adoption and use of digital technologies are rapidly increasing this opened the door for the development of more computer applications. There are so many software applications and tools being developed in the industry for ease of Virtual Design and Construction. Data is getting generated more and more so there is a huge demand for software developers, big data analytics, and management.

Drones, robotics, and smart technologies like IoT and Digital twins are already introduced in the industry and it is expected that these all will be part of and new normal in the coming connected construction industry.

How do we address this?

In this context, there are a few areas in which industries, education institutions, and Govt policymakers can work towards bridging this gap — at individual and organizations collaboration, and strategic partnership levels.

  • We need to revisit our education system in such a way that we are increasing the engagement of industry and universities.
  • Universities should allow students to explore different career options through internships and apprenticeships during their education. Mandating a minimum industry exposure duration would be ideal
  • Universities bring in industry subject matter experts from various streams to provide lectures and guidance on developing students’ soft skills and technical skills more effectively, shaping them to be employable after graduation.
  • Initiatives from Government entities and organizations to provide online, and offline internships opportunities
  • Incorporation of specializations and subjects for relevant streams in the curriculum and constantly updating it due to consultation with industry subject matter experts.
  • Initiatives for having a platform where students and alumni can stay connected. Alumni can provide the support that is required for the next generation to be better equipped.

The future

In this rapidly changing world, unprecedented new challenges arise for which we need to find solutions.

Especially in the construction industry where there is a huge scope for bettering the existing traditional. It is heading towards a massive digital transformation in every segment of the trade and requires a multidisciplinary skilled workforce to work collaboratively.

It is now the right time to bring some of the transformation thoughts into the way we are building and educating our generations to come.

Many top professional universities have been able to implement a lot of initiatives on that front and are able to yield results. Tier 2 and Tier 3 universities are still a long way to go in increasing employability opportunities.

As responsible professionals, we owe it to the welfare of society to contribute to the overall growth of the community, which in turn benefits us all. Enabling digital transformation in the construction industry is something that Desapex has made its mission statement and has been constantly hosting internships and conducting workshops at various colleges and universities to spread the word and enlighten about the opportunities. If you are passionate about driving this change, join hands with us to be that change you want to see in the world.

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