President's Apprentices call for industry innovation

The President’s Apprentices for 2015 have called for the construction industry to kick start a culture where innovation is embedded at every level in their ‘Innovation: Stepping up the Industry’ report.

Six of the President’s Apprentices, (from L to R) Peter Coppenhall, Joanne Huett, Tako Hove, Michelle Roche, Beth Barnes and Philippa Jefferis
Six of the President’s Apprentices, (from L to R) Peter Coppenhall, Joanne Huett, Tako Hove, Michelle Roche, Beth Barnes and Philippa Jefferis

Every year the ICE President chooses some of the brightest and most motivated graduate and technician members to be on the President's Apprentice Scheme. The chosen Apprentices work with the President on projects related to the specific theme that they have chosen for their year of presidency. This year, current President David Balmforth chose the theme 'Civil Engineering: Fit for the Future.'

Sophie McPhillips
Apprentice Sophie McPhillips

The culmination of a year of activities as President’s Apprentices sees the six collaborate on a report which will be presented by Apprentices Sophie McPhillips and Joanne Huett in an online webinar on October 15th.

In the report, they highlight examples of infrastructure projects with innovation at their heart, such as Crossrail and the London 2012 Olympic Velodrome. But they say the industry on large has grown used to a risk averse culture and is lagging behind other industries such as manufacturing and aerospace.

The report stresses that there is no “silver bullet” when it comes to creating an innovation culture, instead a collection of changes are needed. It sets out eight “building blocks” that could enable transformation – covering diversity of teams, choice of contracts and knowledge sharing, right through to embracing technology and boosting investment in Research & Development.

Tako Hove, ICE President Apprentice and report co-author commented: “While some leaders have taken the plunge to embed innovation and are reaping the benefits, our industry as a whole has not yet embraced it.

“With the challenges facing us, we simply can’t afford not to – and ‘business as usual’ will not deliver the change required. There has never been a better time to innovate – so we become smarter, faster, more productive, more sustainable and exploit the unique talent across our industry.

“One of the biggest blockers to innovation can be ascribed to our industry culture, and while there is no overnight fix or “silver bullet” here, we can all play our part in kick starting a culture where the value of innovation is recognised across all levels and people are empowered to take forward good ideas.

“Our report sought to identify what was hindering innovation and set out a collection of changes, which if made together, could influence organisations and our ability to innovate. They are the ‘building blocks’ which could turn barriers into drivers and unlock innovation across our sector.”

ICE President, Professor David Balmforth, added: “We talk a lot about innovation in our industry, we celebrate it in awards ceremonies around the world, and there are plenty of examples of innovation in the projects we deliver. Yet innovation is not routine - we struggle to build the processes that lead to innovation into our day to day work, even though we know that we must innovate more if we are to secure the success of the industry in the future.

“At the start of my presidential year I set my seven apprentices the task of understanding why we find innovation elusive and how we might better embed it. Their report findings are informative and practical and by adopting them we can all help to drive forward innovation.”.

Download the report

The Apprentice’s tenure ends on November 3 and incoming President Sir John Armitt will announce a new intake of Apprentices in the coming weeks.

Learn more about the President’s Apprentices scheme and find out how to take part