The construction sector has experienced a skills shortage since the 2008 recession, struggling to attract young people into the industry whilst losing staff to retirement and not adequately addressing the challenges and benefits of gender and ethnic diversity. Exacerbating the shortage, the digital world requires enhanced skill-sets and the industry has been slow to take up the challenges.
Existing skills and knowledge must be retained and transferred whilst embracing new digital skills in data, automation and analysis. Focus will be around safety, delivery and customers, and values of ownership, integrity, teamwork and passion.
Across the industry, from designers to academics, from schools to professional institutions we must address career paths and succession planning, training, skills and knowledge transfer. We must encourage multiple entry routes to the industry – graduates, apprentices, and transfers from other disciplines.
A safe, efficient and sustainable transport network and bridge industry require a competent and diverse workforce. We must face the challenge as we embrace the innovations and technologies that are changing our industry.
- The construction industry employs nearly 3 million people – close to 10%of the UK workforce
- The profession must embrace digital technology, and Civil Engineers should develop these rapidly evolving skills.(ICE Professional Skills Review, July 2019)
- For the engineering sector to gain enough candidates to reduce the skills shortage, they would need around 186,000 skilled recruits each year until 2024 (Randstad January 2019)
- The UK Government Industrial Strategy sets out four Grand Challenges. Embedding AI across the UK will create thousands of good quality jobs and drive economic growth (UK Government, Sept 2019)
Priority Areas for Development
- Bridge engineering in schools (sg STEM ambassadors)
- Encouraging diversity and recognising the benefits of a diverse workforce
- Publicity campaigns for bridge engineering
- Teaching bridge engineering including operation and maintenance at University
- Training for bridge related digital skills
- Supporting practitioners at work through specialised bridge engineering development packages
- Promoting career paths e.g. for bridge inspectors
- Specialised training and certification schemes
- Workshops to share knowledge between experienced practitioners and younger engineers
- Industry support to training establishments