The importance of attracting Gen-Z to plug the construction sector skills shortage

In this article, Raj Somal, Director at Dice – a civil and structural engineering consultancy – discusses the key to attracting future generations to the construction industry, which he believes is aligning with their sustainable values and promoting an inclusive culture.

It’s no secret that the property and construction industry is suffering from a skills shortage, so it’s crucial that we attract talent, encourage diversity, and create a sector that young people are excited to work in.

We firmly believe that bridging the skills gap is all about attracting future engineers and engaging with them. A recent report found that the majority (62%) of Gen Z are aware and engaged with the climate emergency, but only one in three see the construction industry as a sector they can work in to address it – despite the built environment contributing 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint. Therefore, focusing on sustainability to create green-skilled jobs must be a priority.

Technology is key to this – engineering has been seen as a traditional industry for some time but advances in technology are beginning to change this outdated perception. The sector is very modern and creative, so I like to think that we are part of a new generation of engineers who are using tech to innovate and deliver projects more sustainably and efficiently.

We work with tools like REVIT to generate 3D models of buildings, and all our technical mark-ups are carried out on iPads, tying in with our aim to be a paperless business. Our engineers utilise collaborative processes such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) to help us remain technology-forward, which is a big pull for younger generations who have grown up with devices in their hands.

But we need to go further than this to attract talent. It’s not enough to have sustainable ways of working – our projects must also line up with this vision. The built environment is one of the most problematic for carbon emissions, so as an industry we need to examine our building methods, use of technology, and the ongoing operation of buildings if we have any hope of reaching net-zero targets by 2050.

We are passionate about offsite construction and promoting modern methods of construction (MMC). It offers a much more sustainable way to design and construct buildings as well as the ability to save time and money for developers – which is a win-win in my book.

We also take a holistic approach to environmentally sustainable designs, considering every facet of the environment, and actively incorporate sustainable thinking and practices into the projects we’re involved in.

Generation Z are always looking for ways to disrupt and leave a meaningful impact. If we can engage young people in the construction industry, they will bring an important entrepreneurial spirit into the sector, while also holding sustainability at the forefront of their minds as the issue of climate change becomes more and more pressing.