To address the digital skills gap, firms in the infrastructure sector should develop new career paths and competencies for their future workforce, according to a new report.
The report by the Digital Transformation Task Group, part of Project 13, provides a ‘data-driven snapshot’ of digital maturity in the sector.
Prepared by Mott MacDonald and sponsored by the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG) and the Institution of Civil Engineers, Common challenges, shared response identifies best practice from the ICG and highlights areas where collective action is needed to accelerate progress across the sector.
Using Mott MacDonald’s Smart Infrastructure Index, the report focuses on seven areas of digital maturity: customers, commercial, digital transformation, asset management, asset delivery asset performance, and continuous improvement.
The survey on which the report is based gained responses from over 150 individuals from leading UK infrastructure owners and operators.
Mott MacDonald said the results point to three key themes for 2019: a workforce fit for the future; laying the foundations for digital twins; and innovation in an assured environment.
Under the first heading, the survey found that 70% respondents don’t understand their digital skills gap while only 47% could analyse the impact of organisational changes on overall performance.
The report argues that companies need to develop new career paths and define a digital competency framework for their future workforce.
In relation to digital twins, 95% of respondents said poorly organised information currently prevents them from realising the full value of the concept. The report says owners ‘need to identify tangible opportunities to create value today through pilot projects, while building the foundational layers for future applications’.
Under the heading of ‘innovation in an assured environment’, the report asks: ‘How can companies enable innovation in a way that does not introduce unacceptable levels of risk?’
It states: ‘Although 80% [of respondents] said their organisation responds effectively to changes in legislation, owners should challenge established processes where more agile ways of working could drive innovation without compromising service to customers.’
‘Boosting diversity within the industry is also key,’ the report adds.
Digital transformation is one of five workstreams in Project 13, which aims to bring forward a new model for delivering major infrastructure projects and programmes.
Jamie Radford, digital transformation lead, Mott MacDonald said: ‘Digital transformation will be a major contributor to achieving the step change in efficiency our industry needs to meet increasing pressures ranging from rising populations, the desire for social development and the urgent need to drive down carbon emissions.
‘By reviewing a diverse cross-section of participants, we gained a rich picture of how digital culture varies across the infrastructure industry.’