More than anything else, we have come to associate the younger generations with technology – be it smartphones, social media or video games. When we look ahead to the next generation of construction industry leaders, we therefore need more than anything to capitalise on young people’s interest in tech, says Nick Conway of ITC Concepts
This year, we’ve heard many organisations voice their concerns about the skills shortage in the construction industry and an ageing workforce within the sector. The need to attract fresh talent to the industry is evident. It’s therefore time we used one of the industry’s fastest-growing resources to appeal to a generation of tech natives.
I believe that technology will be essential in changing the perception of the construction industry among young people; both for the process of reaching a younger audience and in helping make the sector more appealing and accessible to them.
Tech has quickly become a part of everyday life for most, if not all, people working in construction. At ITC, for example, we use a specially developed app for snagging, have integrated video technology into our collaborative working programs and are committed users of project management software. Technology has become an integral part of problem-solving across the industry, both on-site and in design-led work and office-based roles.
However, the truth remains that many people outside the industry do not associate our sector with technology, or even with innovation.
In response to this, the role that technology plays in construction needs to be emphasised in all aspects of recruitment and outreach. Otherwise, many talented and enthusiastic students who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM subjects might rule out a career in construction because of this outdated image of the industry.
Thankfully, there are already many great initiatives that can help us change this perception, including campaigns that draw connections between video games and the operation of machinery.
At a careers event recently, ITC showcased the technological innovation involved in a career in construction by bringing along our own VR headsets and demonstrating what it’s like to work on a live site. The response from attendees was fantastic; you could see how much more engaged they were with the subject matter as a result.
If we are to change the perception of construction, it’s essential that we get involved with as much outreach as possible, including engagement at a school level, and reaching out to young people in a way that resonates with them.
The construction industry should be getting involved with existing STEM initiatives that are trying to appeal to young people, and not least because these initiatives often target young women, who are, to a large extent, an untapped resource for the male-dominated industry. And we should be challenging ourselves to adapt our style and approach in order to appeal to a new generation of potential industry leaders.
From inside the industry, it is clear that tech is the future and that it will change the face of how we work and what we create. And if tech is the future of the industry then why shouldn’t it be used to recruit the future generation of construction experts too?