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  Imagining a Digital Competency Management Ecosystem Approach to Transforming the Productivity of People in the Built Environment

   School of Science, Engineering and Environment

  Prof Jason Underwood, Dr Mustapha Munir, Dr Paul Coates  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Information on this PhD research area can be found further down this page under the details about the Widening Participation Scholarship given immediately below.

Applications for this PhD research are welcomed from anyone worldwide but there is an opportunity for UK candidates (or eligible for UK fees) to apply for a widening participation scholarship.

Widening Participation Scholarship: Any UK candidates (or eligible for UK fees) is invited to apply. Our scholarships seek to increase participation from groups currently under-represented within research. A priority will be given to students that meet the widening participation criteria and to graduates of the University of Salford. For more information about widening participation, follow this link: [Scroll down the page until you reach the heading “PhD widening participation scholarships”.] Please note: we accept applications all year but the deadline for applying for the widening participation scholarships in 2024 is 28th March 2024. All candidates who wish to apply for the MPhil or PhD widening participation scholarship will first need to apply for and be accepted onto a research degree programme. As long as you have submitted your completed application for September/October 2024 intake by 28 February 2024 and you qualify for UK fees, you will be sent a very short scholarship application. This form must be returned by 28 March 2024. Applications received after this date must either wait until the next round or opt for the self-funded PhD route.


Project description: It is vital to ensure that individuals, teams, and organisations have the necessary appropriate knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, behaviours, and attitude at work, i.e. ‘competence’, to carry out tasks/activities they are appointed to perform. It is also vital for clients when appointing individuals, teams, and organisations, to undertake construction operations, to ensure they are ‘competent’ to be able to conduct the work appropriately. However, a competence problem exists within the construction sector resulting from the lack of effective strategies for competence definition, development, management, mediation, and, importantly, assurance. The Dame Judith Hackett (DJH) (2018) report entitled, “Building a Safer Future”, that followed the Grenfell Fire tragedy, concluded that competence development and culture change are required to support the delivery of built assets that are safe now and in the future.

While the importance for a people-centric, digitally-enabled approach to competency and its management to facilitate the digital transformation of the construction sector and wider built environment is acknowledged by the strategic digital transformation agenda (e.g. ‘Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030’ report by the Infrastructure and Project Authority to the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure & Construction ‘Flourishing Systems’ report), the digitisation/digitalisation of work activities, people, and their competences are still not centre stage, despite the Hackett report and the sector’s future recovery post-Covid.

This research proposes to further build on previous work commissioned by Centre For Digital Built Britain and led by the University of Salford (Pedagogy and Upskilling Network) to explore this area and begin to inform positioning such an approach to effectively address the upskilling and reskilling challenge, centre stage of the strategic digital transformation agenda and action plans (top-down). In addition, establishing the current landscape in relation to the disconnect between the sector’s SME stakeholders and the high-level strategic digital transformation agenda and action plans (bottom-up).

Architecture, Building & Planning (3) Business & Management (5) Education (11) Engineering (12) Information Services (20) Psychology (31) Sociology (32)


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