11 October 2017

Digital technologies - including virtual and augmented reality - are key to revolutionising the construction industry according to a new report from the CITB.

A New Reality: Immersive Learning in Construction suggests that immersive learning has the potential to revolutionise how training is delivered, producing workers with greater ability and transforming the perception of the industry.

The report shows how immersive learning can be cost-effective for employers and training providers and help reduce skills shortages by attracting more young people to construction.

The dossier, the first of its kind for the construction sector, contains 36 interviews with stakeholders and 10 best practice examples. It points to a whole range of potential applications - with trainees being able to practice crane manoeuvres; scale wind turbines; or visualise the detailed 3D build of a skyscraper - all without leaving the classroom.

There's recommendations too - to ensure the full potential of immersive learning is realised. These include: improving understanding of what immersive learning is; increasing expertise in using the technology; and avoiding fragmented training provision.

Immersive learning has the potential to revolutionise how training is delivered, producing workers with greater ability and transforming the perception of the industry.

Writing in the report’s foreword Andrew Wolstenholme OBE, Co-Chair Construction Leadership Council, said: “This report lays down the gauntlet for employers, trainers and the government to tackle key issues such as greater efficiency, skills and growth through innovation.

“It highlights the need to encourage take-up, standardise approaches and encourage collaboration between sectors, such as gaming, to develop successful applications.”
Steve Radley, CITB Director of Policy, said: “Immersive learning has huge potential. It can enhance construction’s appeal to a generation raised on gaming and virtual environments. It will also enable construction to compete with other sectors, such as engineering, which young people often view as an appealing industry because of its use of technology
“Leadership, standards and collaboration are essential to harnessing the potential of this technology. We look forward to working with employers, trainers and the government to maximise the huge benefits immersive learning can bring.”
Evidence of best practice case studies in the report include: Heriot-Watt University’s series of virtual reality games and experiences, such as working from height, to immerse learners into the industry; CITB’s plant simulator facility; and Gaia Technology’s mocked-up construction site (for Liverpool John Moores Univeristy and Coleg Llandrillo Cymru).
The report also outlines the opportunities immersive learning can bring to an array of stakeholders. For trainers, immersive technology can free-up capacity, making student assessments swifter and allowing trainers more time to focus on skills development. For trainees, immersive learning offers a stimulating and quick way to learn. For government, this new form of learning offers a chance to improve the quality, efficiency and safety of construction workers.

Download the 'A New Reality: Immersive Learning in Construction' report