Alison Carnwath, chairman of one of the UK’s largest construction firms, says the Era of Robots is at hand.

Thousands of builders will lose jobs as machines take over building London skyscrapers.


Skyscrapers in the City of London could soon be built by robots rather than by people, according to the boss of one of the UK’s biggest construction firms.

The result would be huge productivity gains as more work could be done by fewer people – but also mass layoffs as traditionally labour-intensive construction projects hire fewer and fewer staff.

“We’re moving into the era of the robots,” said Alison Carnwath, the chairman of Land Securities, the £8.2bn FTSE 100 construction company.

Speaking at the Institute of Directors’ annual convention, the veteran businesswoman said the pace of technological change has taken her by surprise.

“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 – I tell you we’re not that far off, and that has huge implications,” she said.

“Businesses are focusing on [productivity], they want to reengineer how their people can work, they recognise that technology is upon us and is going to destroy thousands of jobs,” said Ms Carnwath, who has been on Land Securities’ board since 2004 and has been chairman since 2008.

UK Construction Jobs


There are 2.3 million construction jobs in the UK. Not all those jobs will vanish. And not all the jobs that do vanish will happen at once. But the writing is on the wall for any kind of repetitive task that can be automated.

Robotic automation will happen far faster than people realize. If tens of thousands of UK construction workers lose their jobs, the same percentage in the US will do so as well.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock