Author(s):Ludger Deitmer (presenting), Lars Heinemann (presenting), Werner Müller

Conference:ECER 2016, Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers

Network:02. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)


Session Information

02 SES 09 B, New Technology Development in VET

Paper Session


Room:Vet-Theatre 115

Chair:Michael Gessler


Building Information Management and its social implication for professional skills of construction workers

The creation of building projects is faced with an increasing complexity by covering new technical and environmental requirements (e.g. low energy buildings, short time cycles, combination of materials etc.) and integrating many different professional actors. Therefore the provision of adequate and up to date technical and social skills at the side of the building professionals is a key factor for meeting the technical requirements of smart buildings.  

By building and construction actors we mean: civil and supply engineers, architects but not only the planning level as well the building production level is important: with skilled workers in bricklaying, carpentry, underground work, building machinery, electricity, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, metal work etc. and this on different coordination levels, such as in Germany as “Vorarbeiter, Werk Poliere, Geprüfte Poliere, Industriemeister” in UK building managers and/or controllers.

The need for better integration and higher coordination to guarantee the envisaged building quality should avoid such situations in which the vocational professionals are not well informed on the building projects; basically at the interface between planning and making difficulties can occur while interactive cooperation practises are missing. The IT systems of the applicant B&C companies are often not networked or integrated by an common technical interface so that an exchange of information e.g. based on digital artefacts do not exist.

To overcome such difficulties the Building Information Modelling (BIM) was created. BIM can be understood as a cooperative working method which combines different domains and building occupations in such a way that the whole life cycle (planning, erection, equiping, building facility management, re-modernisation and demolition) is represented by virtual software artefacts whoch go beyond computer aided design tools. Relevant and thorough information and demonstration on the building object is centrally stored in a BIM cloud. BIM is a involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places.

This improves communication under all building professionals from planning and construction. The dimensions height, whidth and depth are enhanced by information on time, costs and producers. This is stored with the intention to deliver for more transparency and efficiency as well as monitoring information of the building process in real time. In an early stage risk can be studied und minimised by involving the relevant actors, conflict can be overseen much earlier to avoid damages and accidental situations. By these new instruments a more cooperative culture is seen be supported while this can help to avoid damages and stress!

The introduction of BIM (Building Information Modelling) Systems will change construction and production processes quite drastically. This could mean that the work on the building site can be better used for giving construction workers an proactive work instrument. By showing construction process in 3 D and in advance the building site is not only an execution site but also a learning site where work processes can be simulated and coordination could be trained beforehand. A reflection about future risk and conflicts is more easyly possible, this on team level within a construction company.

The key research question would be, which kind of pro-active up-skilling measure (Curricula, Training, Competence assessment) wil be needed to overcome barriers and risk arising from the BIM technology. There is still the danger that BIM of not involving the direct building construction level into this BIM Cycle! Not a good scenario would be: BIM is getting officially obligate but it ‘cuts off’ the construction workers while they are not well prepared. If the topic of BIM is not dealed within the curricula as well as not in teacher training it might be difficult to develop the human and shaping advantages for this technology.


BIM is a relatively new technology in an industry typically slow to adopt change. Yet many early adopters are confident that BIM will grow to play an even more crucial role in building documentation. As the BIM implementation is rather at its beginning (in UK further in use at present than in Germany!) but will be much more present in the near future while public offerings (see Dobrindt annoucement, German Federal Ministry of Traffic and Building, Berlin) on building project will be handled more and more via such systems there is clear need for dealing with the impacts of this technology on the qualifications of construction workers and engineers.

The articles researches different sources:
(1) the extensive literature around BIM implementation on potential and functions of this technology, purposes as well as design features, others are
(2) the involvement of the authors in the establishment of an innovation cluster in 2015 and its accompynying research. This Network covers building and construction companies, ICT software houses and VET Training Centers within building and construction as well as several research bodies from North West of Germany. This cluster has been currently established and started and will realise R&D based technology programme/projects around BIM topic’s (monitoring, steering, simulation tools which complement professional work, other planning and simulation tools, tools for better integration of material, machinery and professional workers).
(3) Research results on the comparision of VET systems (preferably UK, Germany and Norway while here BIM is much further implemented) from P. Toner, L. Clarke, C. Winch, D. Brockmann; Bremer in comparing European VET systems with Anglo Saxon VET Systems. Because the difference in the professional VET systems in construction hast also an impact in the shaping of the BIM technology which is an open systems and can be flexibly directed in this or that direction: workers upskilling or deskilling?

Expected Outcomes

We will research and study the implications of BIM for future VET Training of Construction workers within different building and construction professions with follow up interntion to develop further training programmes for construction workers on BIM.

The work on the establishement of BIM R&D cluster in the North West of Germany has led to extensive documents which enroll the sectoral conditions, as well as the future perspectives on the work and technology implications as well as first ideas on qualificational requirements for the professionals.

There is often the argument that BIM is a design and work tool just for larger building sites. There are first small cases give, which need to be analysed whether they can deliver advantages for construction workers and what kind of qualification needs they need to make the optimum out of this.

In fore casting the skills needed at the site of construction workers there are phases of their work task looked at: work preparation, health and safety assement, logic order of the work task and control of product achievements; including documentation.

The needs and requirements for the future skills of the construction workers will be researched by interviews with experts of VET training and instruction (Lehrwerkmeister, Building and construction coordinators), Software specialists as as cluster managers which launche such technology development projects.


Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung: Zukunftsprojekt Industrie 4.0

Acatech Study on the impact of BIM for construction work and qualifications, March 2012 Berlin

Gann, M. David, Innovation in Construction Sector, In: Mark Dodgson, Roy Rothell (eds.), The Handbook of Industrial Innovation, Cheltenham, Edgar Elgar 1994, p. 202-212

Building Information Modelling; on Wikipedia:

“Bauen 4.0 “ Proposal for R&D Network for supporting the Building and Construction economy (SMEs) while introducing BIM in combination with methods of Industry 4.0, not published paper, embeteco, Oldenburg, 2015

Toner, Phillip, Survival and Decline of the Apprenticeship System in the Australian and UK Construction Industry, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 46:3, 2008, pp 413 -438,

BIM and its application in the British Construction industry; derived from (15.1.2016)

Building Information Model (Bim) Protocol, Standard Protocol for use in projects using Building Information Models, Construction Industry Council, London,, 2013

Deitmer, Ludger; Heinemann, Lars (2015): Arbeitsplatzbezogenes Lernen mit Hilfe mobiler Geräte und digitaler Medien. In Zeitschrift für Praxis und Theorie in Betrieb und Schule 69 (151), pp. 47–49.

Attwell, G., Heinemann, L., Deitmer, L., Kämaäinen, P.. (2013). Developing PLEs to support work practice based learning. In: eLearning Papers #35, Nov. 2013.

Deitmer, L., Attwell, G., Developing work based Learning Environments in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in European construction sector (2013). In: Michael Gessler, Ludger Deitmer, Marg Malloch (Eds.) PROCEEDINGS OF THE ECER VETNET CONFERENCE, ECER 2013, Istanbul,

Eastman, Chuck; Tiecholz, Paul; Sacks, Rafael; Liston, Kathleen (2011). BIM Handbook: A Guide to Building Information Modeling for Owners, Managers, Designers, Engineers and Contractors (2nd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley. pp. 36–37.

Meyser, J.; Uhe, E. (2008) Construction, In: Felix Rauner, Rupert Mac (ED.) Lean Handbook of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Research; Doordrecht, Springer International pp. 214-221

Author Information

Ludger Deitmer (presenting)
University of Bremen, Institut Technik + Bildung, Germany
Lars Heinemann (presenting)
University of Bremen, Institut Technik + Bildung, Germany
Werner Müller
University of Bremen, Institut Technik + Bildung, Germany