Expect everything to change

ICE believes the construction industry needs to transform to meet the growing demands of our society and environment.

Engineers visiting a construction site. ICE is leading a campaign to help transform the civil engineering industry.
Engineers visiting a construction site. ICE is leading a campaign to help transform the civil engineering industry.

As part of our continuing Industry Transformation campaign, we reached out to retiring civil engineers and asked them to share their views on the changes their careers have weathered, and to look to future of the industry.

Almost unanimously the respondents named technology as one of the largest drivers of change, and identified public perception of engineering and politics and the roots of most problems.

Ted Ruffell, a Civil and Structural Engineer with over 30 year practice, summed up his advice to young and fellow engineers in just four words: “Expect everything to change”. The IT revolution of course transformed the industry in the last 50 years, but looking to the next 50, many agreed that digitalisation in design, construction and maintenance will continue to have the biggest effect.

ICE similarly identified technology, and more specifically the use of BIM, as a key force for industry transformation, and are working with the UK Government to help industry capitalise on the benefits of fully realised BIM working.

Other big shifts were reported in the forms contracts take and more negatively in the loss of career employment. Retiring engineers felt companies had not invested in their careers and we heard repeatedly that it’s become much more important to take control of building your own skillset, to seek varied experience and be ambitious.

Working as a civil engineer requires the right attitude, willingness to constantly acquire new knowledge and the skills to move forward. Our responders saw that today’s engineers are making better, more informed decisions faster, but that innovation is still slow compared to other sectors.

ICE has identified four key knowledge areas that will catalyse transformation and lead to a more innovative and efficient industry. To find out more and access the resources to upskill yourself visit ice.org.uk/industrytransformation.

Although working in a political environment with uncertain funding and a lack of the general public’s understanding of civil engineering consistently caused issues, our retirees all remained upbeat about the industry and their careers. Civil engineering and practicing within the field was described as ‘the most rewarding profession’ with men and women feeling that over the course of their careers they’d made genuine contributions. “Being able to point at something and say ‘I was a part of that’. It is such a privilege”.