Skanska + Ikea’s BoKlok appoints TopHat to build homes in UK
BoKlok homes are built using timber frames, Ikea fittings, and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) technology. When finished, the homes - in Bristol, and the Sussex towns of Worthing and Peacehaven - will be divided between market sales, local authorities and housing associations.
TopHat has entered into a five-year contract to build 200 new two- and three-bedroom homes. It will fulfill this agreement using a £75m capital investment from Goldman Sachs.
The managing director of Goldman Sachs, Tavis Cannell, commented that BoKlok’s entry to the UK market in partnership with TopHat is a significant development in the construction industry: “TopHat’s technology-driven approach has the potential to make a significant impact on the UK’s housing shortage.
“Their speed, efficiency and high standards make them uniquely positioned to drive critical change in the way the industry currently operates and improve the housing supply chain. We look forward to supporting their continued growth.”
MMC technology allows houses to be built within 10 weeks, with on-site assembly taking only two weeks.
BoKlok’s managing director in the UK Graeme Culliton added that the company is looking to make a positive contribution to the British housing market: “We share the same ambition to bring innovation and sustainability to the UK housing market, which means attractive and good quality homes for people on average incomes.
“Our two companies complement one another well, with TopHat bringing its high levels of automated manufacturing expertise and BoKlok having over 20 years’ experience developing and manufacturing over 12,000 homes in the Nordics.
“As we venture into the UK, we believe that TopHat will contribute to our long-term vision and success, to provide quality, low-cost homes, using sustainable materials and Modern Methods of Construction.”
Apprenticeships can bridge skills gap says Autodesk director
The UK construction industry needs 216,800 new workers by 2025 to meet rising demand, according to the Construction Skills Network published by CITB.
Even before Covid-19, it was estimated it needs to attract 400,000 new recruits each year to meet the UK’s infrastructure needs.
But given one in three current construction employees are over 50 there is predicted to be a 20-25% decline in the available workforce over the next decade. And with end of the free movement of people from the EU, it has further limited access to skilled talent.
Mike Pettinella, Director, Autodesk Construction Solutions EMEA, believes the solution may be one that is hardly new, but might have taken a back seat during the pandemic.
"Apprenticeships could help us bridge the construction skills gap and meet this rapidly rising demand, and attract a new crop of younger talent to the industry," he said.
"Apprenticeships benefit everyone. For candidates, it’s an opportunity to learn valuable skills without incurring thousands of pounds of student debts. For employers, it’s a chance to train up employees in the competencies that are really needed – combining technical knowledge with collaboration and team work, which are equally important as you enter a new industry. And if you’re a larger company and already required to pay the apprenticeship levy, it makes sense to ensure you’re benefitting from the scheme too."
Marshall Construction recently took on nine new apprenticeships covering various roles. "Some of our previous apprentices have left and started their own businesses, which sets them up for life," said Chairman Robert Marshall. "Most of our current managers came from organic growth within the business whom we have trained to our own standards." Firms such as Barnwood Construction and Keepmoat Homes are also advertising and supporting apprenticeships.
According to the CSN, most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers by 2025, with East Midlands (1.7%) and West Midlands (1.4%) forecast to lead demand. Scotland (1.4%) and Wales (0.7%) are also predicted to fare well. The only region forecast to see a slight decline in workforce is the North East (-0.1%).
Major projects such as HS2 are driving growth in some regions and infrastructure (5.2%) and private housing (6.7%) should see the healthiest pace of expansion by 2025.
The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the future shape of work will be profound. Modelling by the McKinsey Global Institute on the effects of technology adoption on the UK workforce shows that up to 10 million people, or around 30 percent of all UK workers, may need to transition between occupations or skill levels by 2030.