If construction is to evolve as it needs to, then it must attract and make the most of younger generations. So says William Baker-Jones. The 28-year-old is not only the deputy head of BIM and digital engineering at Babcock International Group in the South West, but also serves as the IT lead at nima and the construction domain lead for the BuildingSMART UK and Ireland chapter. He represents the younger generation, eager to make an impact in the world of BIM by bringing fresh perspectives and innovation to the industry.
Challenge of attracting talent
The construction industry faces the challenge of attracting and retaining new emerging talent. It is crucial to have fresh minds and perspectives in the industry to drive innovation, embrace technological advancements, and ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the construction sector.
One area of great potential for emerging talent is in the field of BIM and digital construction. BIM offers a promising aspect of the industry as it integrates digital tools, real-time data access, and collaborative platforms to streamline construction processes, enhance project efficiency, and stay updated with the latest industry trends.
By encouraging young professionals to pursue careers in BIM and digital construction, we can leverage their familiarity and comfort with technology to drive positive change, foster innovation, and transform the construction industry into a more efficient, sustainable and forward-thinking sector.
“By introducing BIM to young professionals at an early stage, they are being equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in this evolving industry.”
Construction’s technology divide
Compared with the more established generation in the construction industry, the younger generation has a different relationship with information and technology. While the older generation may rely on traditional methods and practices, the younger generation embraces digital tools, real-time data access and collaborative platforms to streamline construction processes, enhance project efficiency and stay updated with the latest industry trends. This difference in technology adoption between generations highlights the evolving landscape of the construction industry.
Young professionals and digital transformation
The construction industry is constantly evolving, and with it, the need for digital tools and information management is becoming increasingly important. The younger generation, with their familiarity and comfort with technology, has the potential to greatly contribute to this digital transformation.
The number of young people entering the construction industry is generally low, while industries like IT/technology are becoming increasingly attractive to emerging talent. This may be due to a lingering misconception that construction is still a manual or low-tech industry, which can deter young individuals from pursuing careers in this field.
William Baker-Jones: My journey into technology
I grew up in the early 2000s, a time when technology was just starting to take off in homes. I vividly remember having a basic computer in the living room and spending countless hours playing games on Miniclip and games such as RuneScape.
However, my fascination with technology soon turned into a passion as I became curious about how the software and technology were developed. This curiosity became the foundation of my passion for digital construction and information management.
Resistance to change
Interestingly, when it comes to managing information, I often hear the statement “I/we have always done it this way” from older, more experienced individuals. This raises the question of whether they truly understand and value the importance of information in the construction industry. While construction methods have evolved over time, it seems that some individuals may still be resistant to adopting new approaches to how they manage information.
In addition to technical skills, it is crucial to educate the younger generation about the importance of digital construction and information management in the overall success of construction projects. By highlighting the benefits of using BIM and other digital tools, such as improved project efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced collaboration, we can inspire young professionals to embrace these technologies and incorporate them into their day-to-day work.
It is worth noting that most engineering courses now include a module on BIM and its benefits within the built environment. This indicates that there is recognition within the education system of the significance of digital tools and data-driven decision-making in the construction industry. By introducing BIM to young professionals at an early stage, they are being equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in this evolving industry.
Furthermore, with the rapid advancements in AI and technologies like robotics and drones, the construction industry is undergoing a paradigm shift. Information and data have emerged as central components of this transformation. It is crucial for the industry to embrace these changes, and who better to do so than the younger generation and emerging talent?
With their familiarity and comfort with technology, they have the potential to leverage AI and other technologies to drive innovation, enhance project efficiency, and improve overall industry practices.
Fostering collaboration and innovation
Encouraging collaboration and fostering innovation are equally important in unlocking the potential of the younger generation in digital construction and information management. By creating a culture of collaboration, where ideas are shared and teamwork is encouraged, young professionals can leverage their diverse perspectives and skills to drive innovation in the industry.
“It is essential for industry stakeholders to recognise the value of the younger generation and actively support their development.”
Collaborative platforms and project management tools can facilitate real-time communication and information sharing, further enhancing collaboration within teams.
To facilitate collaboration, it is essential to create an environment where young professionals feel comfortable sharing their ideas and contributing to discussions. This can be achieved by promoting open communication channels, organising brainstorming sessions, and recognising and rewarding innovative ideas.
By providing young professionals with a platform to showcase their creativity and problem-solving abilities, we can harness their potential to drive positive change in the construction industry.
Additionally, creating spaces for networking and knowledge exchange, such as industry conferences and forums, can further encourage collaboration and inspire young professionals to think creatively.
These events provide opportunities for young professionals to connect with industry experts, learn from their experiences, and stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in digital construction and information management.
By facilitating these interactions, we can foster a sense of community among the younger generation and empower them to make meaningful contributions to the industry.
Empowering the future
In conclusion, the younger generation has the potential to bring fresh perspectives and innovation to the field of digital construction and information management. By providing them with the necessary education and training, fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, and offering opportunities for growth and leadership, we can unlock their full potential and ensure a successful digital transformation in the construction industry.
It is essential for industry stakeholders to recognise the value of the younger generation and actively support their development and involvement in shaping the future of digital construction and information management. By embracing the creativity, enthusiasm, and technological fluency of the younger generation, we can create a perfect match between BIM and the youth, leading to a more efficient, sustainable and forward-thinking construction industry.
Remember, the future of construction is in the hands of the younger generation, and by empowering them, we can build a better tomorrow.
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