BWI Releases study on future of construction workers

17 October 2019 13:59

The BWI released a scientific study entitled, “National and International Impact of Digitalization on Workers in Construction”, written by University Professor Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Gerald Goger, Honorable Professor Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Wilhelm Reismann, Dipl.-Ing. Karina Breitwieser, MSc from the Technical University of Vienna Institute for Interdisciplinary Construction Process Management Field of research: Construction Process and Construction Methods, with the support of the Building and Wood Workers’ Trade Union of Austria (GBH) and Just Transition Centre.

The study was presented at the BWI Forum on Future of Work in Construction in conjunction with the centenary International Labour Conference on 17 of June 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, where fifty (50) trade union leaders and experts of BWI affiliates from more than 30 countries participated.

The publication, which consists of nine chapters, elaborates on the following three questions:

  • Which developments of technology and digitalisation will lead to changes of production and building?

  • Which job profiles will change as a result, and how?

  • What are the resulting recommendations for action?

The authors give an overview of the key future developments, like BIM, digitalization of contracting and procurement, big data analyses, common virtual workspace and elaborate on new technologies on the construction site, including 3D-printing, intelligent materials and machinery.

The report outlines a set of six recommendations for action on 1) Political, social and legal parameters; 2) Corporate and project processes; 3)Procurement (tender & tender award), contract and settlement; 4) Tools and the interoperability of software solutions; 5) Research and Development; and 6) education and training.

“The awareness building of BWI affiliates on the topic of digitalization is of great significance in humanizing the future of work, as the digitalization should be for workers. Trade unions need to be prepared and more importantly be part of the discussions. This is the beginning of our journey in finding out what could be our alternatives to ensure a just transition, therefore we will continue with the research in other regions,” said Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary.

“Digitalization is a process taking place in the construction sector in all continents; however, the regions will be dealing with it in different ways. Although some trade unions see it as an advantage for workers, others do not see it the same way. Nevertheless, trade unions need to be part of the process of automation and digitalization. We are happy that the study did not only look at the impact of digitalization on workers in construction, but also on the society as a whole,” said Josef Muchitsch, Chair of the BWI Technical Ad Hoc Working Group.

The Publication is available in German and English.