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President's Future Leader Tim Hou looks at the impact of the Covid pandemic on young civil engineers just starting their careers in the industry.
Civil engineers must embrace digital technology
We must not forget that schools are also going to be affected - a declining engagement with industry could lead to a fall in the number of students considering engineering - further magnifying a challenge that we have been trying to address for a long while. We must realise and encourage the different routes into civil engineering, with degrees, apprenticeships and now T-levels. We must also be aware of the potential impact that the pandemic may have on our civil engineering students, who may be struggling to gain valuable experience through work placements or even find full time employment after they graduate. As we progress, we all have a duty to continue our STEM engagement as best we can, as it is now more important than ever. It will also ensure that we are keeping civil engineering as inclusive as possible, continuing our work encouraging underrepresented groups to consider it as a career path.
On that subject, we are starting to see that the pandemic is disproportionately impacting these under-represented groups, including women, people from minority ethnic backgrounds and those who are financially disadvantaged ; we need to be doing everything we can to promote a diverse and inclusive industry to ensure that the positive work is not undone. A diverse workforce has time and time again been proven to be increase productivity for businesses, however, more must be done if we want to avoid unravelling the work put in to get us here. On a positive note, with virtual working the industry is more accessible than ever before - however the industry needs to adapt to benefit from this new talent pool.
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