After much turmoil from Brexit, the pandemic, and other recent events, the UK’s economy has suffered dramatically, and the construction and infrastructure industry is no exception. As the country works towards recovery, however, some growth is to be expected for the civil engineering market, and the demand for these professionals will persist. In particular, civil engineers equipped to handle the future are highly sought after, considering the uncertainty of what is in store this year for the UK and the rest of the world.
As such, here are some things civil engineers can do to prepare themselves and future-proof their work:
Learn new skills
Like all industries, engineering has changed in recent years, and this movement will likely continue. Civil engineers need to expand their skillsets along with the times by doing the following:
Upskilling through additional training
A focus on renewable materials and environmentally conscious efforts, advancing technology like automation and 3D printing, and using sustainable or innovative designs are emerging trends in engineering. Still, there are not many who know how to work with these. Among executives’ top post-pandemic career concerns are skill gaps, as 87% of them claim their organisations are already facing these challenges or expect to face them shortly. Given this need, many companies are looking into coaching, accelerating change workshops, and career development conversations with their employees to ensure the business’s continued growth and strong performance.
As an individual looking to bridge the skill divide, you can earn more certifications or undergo training (if your organisation offers additional reskilling programmes). Being an active learner no matter what stage you are in your career is essential for keeping up with rapid growth and shifts in the industry. Without this new knowledge, you may fall behind and find difficulty adapting to new demands in the field.
Improving technology know-how
As a civil engineer, you could benefit from learning how to use some high-tech technologies, tools, and software, even if it’s just the basics. You could use virtual or augmented reality to create detailed models and better visualisations for client presentations or equip yourself with artificial intelligence knowledge to apply in identifying and mitigating risks in construction projects using real-world data.
The Institution of Civil Engineers President’s Future Leader Hayley Jackson highlights that while engineers need to gain knowledge in digital knowledge and interfaces, upskilling will still involve traditional skills. The core principles of civil engineering will not change, but experience with both traditional methods and emerging technology will drive industry growth.
While skill-building is essential for civil engineers, these professionals should not undervalue the power of collaborating with other people to further their careers. Civil engineers can grow their connections by:
Mentoring and being mentored
Finding a mentor who can give you feedback and advice can help you grow as a civil engineer. But other than being mentored, you can also provide more timely and relevant information to older employees, even those more experienced than you. Reverse mentoring is growing in interest in the working world, where younger employees teach older generations about anything from consumer desires, new technology, and evolving cultural and social attitudes. As the future of work in civil engineering and beyond is looking to diversify and digitalise, you can share your experiences with senior employees and break intergenerational barriers.
Civil engineering firms like Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK have already reaped the benefits of apprenticeship programs. By taking in young, aspiring engineers into their programme, the firm benefits by utilising their knowledge in software and databases. The apprentices also gain career opportunities by working on projects regarding renewables, highways, waste management, and more for the firm.
Expanding your network
Networking is an integral part of any career in any industry, including civil engineering. Having connections in the businesses can increase your chances of gaining opportunities and industry insights from successful figures. Connecting to people in other firms and related fields can also broaden your skillset, allowing you to harness more information for your work. Attending events like Digital Construction Week, Offsite Expo, or Highways UK can bring together you and other individuals looking to spark change in the industry. You can exchange valuable and diverse ideas to help each other improve the field.
As is the same for all industries, the future of work in civil engineering remains highly unpredictable. However, by opening yourself up to new knowledge, you can open up doors yourself with the skills and know-how you’ve accumulated. If you’re looking to grow your career in civil engineering, check out our tips for jobs and interviews in the industry to guide you.