Skills has been high on the agenda once again this year, so we’ve asked someone who finished his apprenticeship at Crossrail in 2016 to assess the industry and look to the year ahead.
What are your hopes for construction in 2017?
I hope we will embrace new ways of working and really see some major improvements, both digital and non-digital, within construction and engineering.
In particular, I would very much like to see the construction industry play a bigger part in improving air quality, especially in London. There are some fantastic products out there now to limit emissions from plant equipment, vehicles and construction materials which offer both environmental and economic benefits.
What are the top three ways construction will change in the next 12 months?
The next 12 months will see the introduction and application of the government’s apprenticeship levy. Having just completed mine, I’m a great believer in apprenticeships.
This is a huge opportunity that the industry will need to take advantage of if it wants to continuously grow and improve. Hopefully 2017 will see even more young people get to start their careers in construction and engineering.
2017 will also see significantly more processes digitised. The use of digital hardware, such as tablets on sites, is increasing so we can better anticipate needs and revamp processes from the start of contracts rather than bringing in digital tech halfway through.
Lastly, I think we will also start to see a significant change in the types of people coming into construction and engineering settings. With such huge amounts of data now being generated and on offer, those with backgrounds in data science, for example, may now see our industry as an increasingly important place to come and work.
Which areas will you be focusing on in 2017?
The UK has a fantastic technology and start-up scene, so I very much hope to continue engaging with it in 2017 to try to bring some of the creative solutions developed there into construction.
I’m also looking to undertake some research on innovation management in construction with the support of the CIOB and Worshipful Company of Constructors’ Sir Ian Dixon scholarship, which was fantastic to receive.
Brexit: good or bad for construction?
It is too early to comment on the impact Brexit will have for construction, but I’m hopeful that our industry will, as always, rise to any challenges.
With the number of major infrastructure projects coming up, whatever happens we will be able to show off some amazing engineering at the end of it.
What were your high and low points of 2016?
A high point for me was completing both my degree and apprenticeship concurrently in 2016, allowing me to join the Costain graduate scheme.
Working in innovation involves a lot of applications to funding rounds and grants and, unfortunately, this year not all the projects I’ve been a part of were successful in gaining funding. I’m always grateful, however, to be able to work with such enjoyable and diverse teams of people across our industry and look forward to taking on new challenges with them throughout 2017.
George Holder is graduate business improvement manager at ATC, working on Crossrail, and completed his apprenticeship in 2016