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Civil engineering is more important than ever

30 April 2020

ICE spoke to leading employers to discuss the future of the industry amid the current Covid-19 health pandemic. They reveal that despite the challenges, there remains a positive future for the sector.

Civil engineering is more important than ever

As with many industries around the world, ICE is aware that this is a challenging time for our members. But we are confident that there remains a positive future for the sector.

Post-Covid-19, civil engineers and built environment professionals will be needed more than ever to aid the global economic recovery.

We spoke with two leading employers about their views on the future of the industry.

The need for talent

Mark Naysmith

Mark Naysmith is the UK & ZA Chief Executive Office at WSP. He says infrastructure will remain crucial in supporting growing communities.

"Infrastructure provides the life line and connectivity that is required to support thriving and growing communities around the world," says Mark.

"Before the world was hit by Covid-19 we had a shortage of skills and talent to deliver environmentally important and engineering critical projects. This need for talent has not gone away in light of the current humanitarian crisis, it has potentially increased."

"Once the world moves back to a relative state of normality in 2021, there will be the need to accelerate a number of current and dormant infrastructure projects, both to boost the economy, but also to respond to the Net Zero agenda that has been emphasized as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Now is a fantastic time to be a part of the built and natural environment, at a time that you can really make a difference to the way we will live our lives going forward."

Governments have learned their lesson

Steve Fox

"Successive recent governments have learnt the importance of construction," says Stephen C. Fox, MBE and Chief Executive of BAM Nuttall Ltd. "In particular regarding infrastructure to the economy of the UK. Spending on construction is a very efficient way of stimulating the economy."

We have seen an increasingly stable pipeline of infrastructure projects, which by their nature, take time to deliver and are therefore less affected by the volatility of the market. Our order book is substantially made up of longer-term projects and frameworks."

"The current government has shown clear commitment to ramping up infrastructure spending, with significant additional funding being committed. We are seeing growth in rail, highways, flood alleviation and power in particular. We expect the government to want to accelerate spending and to be looking for those projects that can start on site the soonest."

"There is also clear support for sustainable energy schemes and we anticipate further investment here."

The industry needs you

Sean Harris

ICE Director of Membership Sean Harris says that in a post-Covid-19 world, professionally qualified civil engineers will be in high demand. "In fact our internationally recognised professional qualifications may well become an even more important market differentiator," says Sean.

"We recognise the challenges faced by our members. For many, the impact of Covid-19 goes beyond the very real threat of personal infection and illness and brings into sharp relief the future of the profession itself."

"Rest assured, however, that the industry needs you and ICE remains committed to supporting you."

"Post-Covid-19 society will return once more to dealing with the climate emergency, sustainable infrastructure, ethical construction and societal betterment and assurance. Governments around the world – from China to the UK – see infrastructure investment as key to re-booting economic growth."

"Increasingly, clients, employers and wider society expect those calling themselves civil engineers to be professionally registered, current and expert – with 95,000 global members in 156 countries, ICE remains a bastion of internationally-recognised standards and learning."

"ICE will in the months ahead engage with those school leavers considering university courses or apprenticeships in civil engineering. We will engage with those graduating this summer – industry needs you and ICE will prepare you for the professional challenges that lie ahead."

" ICE remains committed to ensuring that those completing IPD and looking towards achieving professional qualification have the support they need to prepare for and succeed at Professional Review. In the next 6 months we will be conducting more than 800 remote reviews for those seeking professional registration – we face challenges created by coronavirus but cannot allow the next generation of civil engineers to be defined by it."

"Civil engineers, with professional qualifications that command respect, will be needed more than ever."

  • Séan Harris, director of membership at Institution of Civil Engineers