Skip to content
ICE Community blog

‘We must continue to build the capacity and resilience of our people’

08 September 2022

Chris Caves wants to ensure that civil engineers come together to celebrate the contribution their profession makes to society. 

‘We must continue to build the capacity and resilience of our people’
Chris Caves, ICE Northern Ireland chair 2021-22.

The civil engineering profession finds itself at a time, as it has before, where there will be a significant shift in the way projects are delivered.

This shift needs to happen in order to meet our net-zero ambitions and offer a happier, healthier, and more prosperous future for society.

Recent global events around the fragility of our energy security have made it more apparent than ever that society must wean itself off fossil fuels and look toward more sustainable alternatives.

While we may debate which of the challenges society faces are the most pressing there’s no doubt that talented civil engineers have a key role to play in helping overcome them.

It will require hard work and commitment. Over 200 years of innovative thinking says that ICE will deliver.

Focus on nurturing and developing talent

Since our small beginnings, ICE has become home to many of history’s greatest engineers as past presidents and members.

Our profession has an unparalleled reputation for providing solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Yet, to deliver, we must focus on nurturing and developing our talented people, ensuring we have the expertise to deliver.

From technical knowledge to creativity, as well as communication and management, the skills and expertise required by civil engineers are vast and varied.

It’s this unique combination of skills that must be nurtured and developed to ensure that as a profession, we continue to support the demand across the world for highly skilled civil engineers.

With many feeling the ‘burnout’ after the stresses of the last two years, and the reports that civil engineering is facing a skills gap, surely now is the time to give this outreach increased emphasis.

In the UK alone, numbers entering the industry don’t match the number that are set to retire from the construction industry in the next 10 years.

Add to this an increased workload due to targets and ambitious infrastructure projects – the skills crisis is an immediate concern.

Continue to develop emerging talent

We have an incredible opportunity to reset our working methods, targets and ambitions.

We must focus on nurturing our emerging talent while they develop skills to ensure our profession is fit for the challenges ahead.

There’s fantastic opportunity to draw on the experience of those who have been in the profession for many years.

In the same vein, those with more experience also have a responsibility to offer their insight to those in the earlier stages of their career and mentoring can have an immensely beneficial impact in nurturing this emerging talent.

Equally, there’s a whole new generation of people with skill sets, knowledge bases and educational backgrounds that can blend with existing knowledge to create great outcomes for both ICE and for society.

Our members must continue to celebrate success, share knowledge, balance diversity, and continue to explain and demonstrate to the future generations why civil engineers enjoy what they do, every day.

It’s incredible how much our industry and our institution have managed to achieve over recent years. Collectively, we continue to shape a better world and show tremendous innovation in doing so.

With the speed of change and the need for new and extended skills, let’s ensure that we invest in our people as our most valued and important asset.

Get involved

If you would like to get involved with ICE, visit the ICE volunteer hub, where you can discover a range of ways to spread civil engineering joy.

Whether it’s helping to inspire and qualify the next generation, sharing expertise and helping to influence government policy, or even simply helping to raise awareness of the profession by telling the world what civil engineers do.

Here are a few options to do this:

Furthermore, ICE’s new Knowledge Hub was recently given a bold new look to support members in completing the recommended learning.

It covers important topics like safety, the digital transformation, decarbonisation and productivity among many others.

Learn more
  • Chris Caves, North Transport Group Leader at Arup