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Assessment of current and future critical skills in the South African construction industry

Innocent Musonda (Construction Management and Quantity Surveying, University of Johannesburg – Doornfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Chioma Okoro (Finance and Investment Management, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 1 February 2021



The role of skills development in attaining productivity and competitiveness in industry and global level cannot be overemphasized in the construction sector. The study aims to evaluate the critical skills needed in the construction industry.


A quantitative study was conducted, and data were collected using questionnaires distributed amongst construction professionals including project managers, construction managers, quantity surveyors, architects and engineers based in South Africa. The data amassed were analysed to output descriptive statistics. The skills were ranked according to the level of priority as perceived by the respondents.


Findings from the empirical data analysis established that the critical skills needed within the construction industry at present and in the future are health and safety competence, decision-making, leadership and problem-solving skills. On the other hand, public speaking, big data mining and Internet of things (IoT) were not considered to be critical.

Practical implications

These findings indicated that even with technological advancements, managerial skills are needed to ensure that projects are delivered successfully.


The study sheds more light on skills considered critical at present and which might be relevant in the future. The study signposts the importance of critical skills to an individual and the entire construction industry. Efforts can be made to ensure that relevant critical skills for high output are emphasized and planning can be made for future and predicted construction industry workforce needs.



This research was supported by the University of Johannesburg through the University Research Committee (URC) grant made to the Centre for Applied Research and Innovation in the Built Environment (CARINBE).


Musonda, I. and Okoro, C. (2021), "Assessment of current and future critical skills in the South African construction industry", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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