Stop Churn

Investing in careers can help prevent talent from going elsewhere says Kirstin Donohue of Connect

Earlier this year, the Institution of Civil Engineers reported that the top 20 recruiters in the industry had taken on more than 16,000 engineers between them worldwide over the past 12 months including both new graduates and fully-qualified and experienced engineers. These companies cited increasing demand in the UK, as well as increased infrastructure schemes elsewhere across the globe.

These figures, taken together with predictions of a rise in house construction in the UK and the ongoing shortage of skilled workers in certain specialised fields, all point to increased volatility in the labour market. Not only will there be newly-created positions to fill, employees who have been treading water during the downturn could well decide that now is the time to move. It’s impossible for a company to relax even if it has the right people in the right places.

Is there anything that can be done to keep the best employees from leaving to join the competition?

The management of talent has long been a major concern for HR departments in the construction industry. It involves identifying rising stars, preparing staff to progress through the company and ensuring that there are people with the right credentials ready to take over from older engineers who are retiring. For both the sake of the company and its employees, this can and should also include the development of in-house talent, the encouragement of individual career advancement, and the guarantee that employees are fully versed in the latest technologies and methods. It also enables senior managers to plan and ensure that they have access to the right skills and provides a blueprint for evolution as demands and methods change.

When it comes to employee retention, nothing works better than providing opportunities for growth and development. Yet, the tendency is to ignore the further development of technical and engineering skills, taking these as read, and instead focus on investing in management or other business training. Of course, many engineers do need training in ‘soft skills’, but by ignoring the latest digital advances they may find even their core skills are outdated.

Most engineers are good at taking things apart and asking ‘how does it work?’. They are also very good at teaching themselves, especially when it comes to learning new software where it often becomes a matter of pride to rise the challenge without anyone else’s help. As a result, employers are often tempted to leave them to it.

However, DIY learning is very different from professional training which teaches best practise and how to use software in the most productive way. As a result, businesses lose out on the full potential of their technological investments when they ignore this type of training. To be technologically proficient these days entails far more than simply knowing where to click on a computer mouse. Digital methods have long been used in the building design industry, but the construction industry itself, which has always been a bit more traditional, has been slower to adopt new methods than the industry as a whole.. IT, on the other hand, is no longer just a tool for the company; it is now an essential part of its overall strategy.

Disciplines in the design and construction industry have undergone significant transformation, and the pace of change is only increasing. As a result, there is frequently a mismatch between what students learn in college and what employers expect of them upon graduation. As a result, even recent college grads may not be up to date on the most recent developments in their fields. Because of the recession, some qualified engineers may have lapsed in their knowledge or been lulled into thinking they don’t require any further education.

Employers should keep an eye on those in the latter group. They have the right background and are integral to the business. They may have gotten the impression that they are now in high demand, and they may even have been courted by rivals in the past. Yet, they probably don’t think that they need further training or believe they just don’t have time. It doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t appreciate the time and money spent on them in the future.

They could still prove a problem for employers wanting to develop new strategies for growth in changing market conditions. In an ideal world, this would be the group of employees who could most significantly contribute to the growth of the company by keeping abreast of the most recent technological advancements and innovative ways of thinking.

Employers must work to alter this mindset while also emphasising the advantages to employees of this change. Digitisation has brought a transformation in concept design, workflow, testing and analysis. It hasn’t only changed how buildings are designed, but has also had an impact on supply chains and scheduling – in fact all the issues that are central to the work of project managers at this level. In contrast to the workplace of today, even people in their 30s and 40s began their careers in very different circumstances.

Building information modelling (BIM) will be required in all public sector construction projects by 2016 under a government mandate, which is only going to serve to highlight this disparity further. Of course, BIM is a well-established part of the business model of most large contractors today. But this puts smaller firms who haven’t yet adopted the strategy at a double disadvantage – and their employees who haven’t yet had experience of a BIM project.

Yet there are ways to remedy this situation. For example, recently Northumbria University, along with Ryder Architecture, has founded the BIM Academy and one of its courses is an intensive three-day Virtual Project programme. There is no longer a Catch 22 situation where a company needs experience with a BIM project in order to get work, but it cannot gain that experience until it gets the work, says Justine Grey of the BIM Academy. As a result, they can gain BIM expertise during the bidding process.” The course can also provide a ‘dry run’ for newly formed teams to quickly assess their capability and responsibility and iron out the inevitable problems.

Investing in the future of employees by taking advantage of courses such as this is a signal to them that they have a long-term career with the company. Vendor-approved training and certification gives them a global benchmark for their skills. Of course, there’s a chance it’ll make it easier for them to move on with their careers if that’s the case. No other strategy works as well to build loyalty among employees as demonstrating to them that the company’s goals are shared by them as well.

In this way, the latest technologies and techniques can foster a new purpose, energy and enthusiasm through training and certification. – Indeed, it can help rekindle a worker’s enthusiasm, and he or she may conclude that changing jobs isn’t necessary after all.

Last Updated on December 28, 2021


Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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