Thousands of tradesmen to lose their jobs to robots, says Land Securities chief Alison Carnwath

Thousands of tradesmen will be out of work in the next few years, if you’re to believe Land Securities chairperson Alison Carnwath.

The leading construction firm chief says ‘we’re moving into the era of robots’ and expects a surge in productivity to come with it.

Robot builders ‘not far off’

Australian firm Fastbrick Robotics revealed ‘Hadrian X’ earlier in the year - a robot builder capable of laying up to 1000 bricks an hour.

And Carnwath believes mass robot-builders are closer than we think, something that could have worrying implications for many of the UK’s tradespeople.

“Five years ago I’d have smiled wryly if somebody had said to me that robots would be able to put up buildings in the City of London,” Carnwath said. “I tell you we’re not that far off, and that has huge implications.”

The construction boss was speaking at the Institute of Directors’ annual convention, and believes an increase in the use of robotics in construction could give the industry a lift - albeit with serious repercussions for thousands of builders.

But it’s not all doom and gloom

Despite these predictions, tradesmen are in record demand. The ongoing skills shortage has meant a spike in work and in wages - back in June, bricklayers’ wages hit £25 highlighting the need for skilled workers.

And robot builders aren’t without their drawbacks.

Hadrian X cost a whopping £4.5m in research to develop, and we’re yet to have an explanation about the role that such machines would have on site.

Self-employed tradesmen who mainly work on domestic jobs may also be out of the firing line, with the robots mooted for larger-scale commercial work in the future.

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