Almost one in three jobs in the construction sector could be replaced by new technology in the next two decades, a new report has claimed.

New research from construction consultancy Mace predicts that more than 600,000 roles could be replaced by automation by 2040 as the sector moves to Industry 4.0 and embraces productivity-improving technologies.

Industry 4.0 is the collective term for a range of technologies, such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and robotics, that experts believe represent a new ‘industrial revolution’.

Mace warns that the industry will lose out on the potential productivity benefits unless it re-skills the current workforce and attracts a new generation of more tech-savvy workers.

"Everyone now acknowledges the current skills shortages need to be addressed," said Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds.

"Our latest report highlights the opportunities the digital revolution can offer, how we can dramatically close the future skills gap and how we can meet the £25bn ‘productivity challenge’.

In the report, entitled ‘Moving to Industry 4.0: A skills revolution', Mace has outlined a number of recommendations to help ensure that the necessary number of workers can be re-trained, including accelerating the use of new technology in training and revolutionising traditional apprenticeships and training programmes.

Steve Gillingham, director for the North at Mace, added: "Nationally, we are already witnessing the impact that automation is having on our economy as well as transforming the way we deploy skills across different industries.

"This report confirms it is only a matter of time before we see automation revolutionise the construction sector and as an industry this is something we should embrace.

“Innovative new ways of working and automation can help us to close some of the significant productivity and skills gaps we face in the north of England. While the prospect of automation could cause alarm for some workers it is important that government and businesses work together to find solutions which can see us redeploy workers in the most effective way and in the areas where they can add the most value."

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