The media landscape has been increasingly been dominated in recent years by headlines heralding the arrival of automation, and the impact it may have on both our day to day and professional lives. Within civil and structural engineering, automation has the potential to optimise design and project planning tasks, whilst drones and Building Information Modelling (BIM) are automated technologies that are already having a huge impact on the profession. As an industry undergoing great transformation and change but also facing considerable skills gaps, it is the responsibility of senior leaders to teach the next generation of civil and structural engineers how to become digitally literate and able to embrace new ways of working.
According to our latest research in the Hays What Workers Want 2019 report, sentiment towards automation is generally positive, with the majority of civil and structural engineers (73%) believing we should embrace it at work, and 78% aware of the benefits it can offer to the workplace. Employers must capitalise on this willingness to engage by providing the required resources, information and transparency employees need to enable the success of their digital transformation programmes.
So what should employers do to ensure civil and structural engineers are engaged with automation projects and feel equipped to get the most value out of them?
Civil and structural engineering employees highlight the importance of training for delivering on digital change, with 44% saying that it is the most important area of focus for organisations to ensure the success of their digital transformation programmes. 50% of civil and structural engineers say they are developing their technical skills in order to better work with automation, and 74% say that they are developing their soft skills. Of the 74% working on their soft skills, however, only 35% say that they are receiving training from their employer.
To ensure that professionals feel fully able to succeed and work towards achieving their organisation’s digital transformation objectives, employers should try to foster a culture of lifelong learning, providing opportunities both in more traditional training formats or with bite-sized resources that facilitate independent learning.
A high proportion of civil and structural engineers already know what automation can offer to the workplace, with 78% of respondents saying they are aware of its benefits. However, this optimism is at risk of being curbed by a lack of readiness, as nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents say their organisation is not well equipped to deal with technological change.The most commonly cited barriers to automation implementation by employers specifically include a lack of skills from current staff (75%) and a lack of support (38%). Despite acknowledging these obstacles, only 14% of civil and structural engineering employers have hired a change manager, team or agency to help overcome them.
In order to maintain the momentum of automation implementation, civil and structural engineering employers and employees need to be both aware of the benefits it offers and the skills needed to make the most of it. This awareness will help improve engagement with training and facilitate support amongst your workforce.
A positive attitude to change is deemed the most important quality for workers to possess in order to successfully deal with digital transformation in the workplace by over half(52%)of civil and structural engineering respondents. Employers should respond to this attributed importance by promoting the benefits of automation and offering support to staff in order to build a positive and open culture around digital transformation.
With 41% of respondents saying they would be attracted to work for an organisation that was investing in automation or had plans to do so, it is clear that promoting the investment is also in employers best interests when it comes to securing top talent. Hiring change managers or engaging change agencies can help to facilitate the transition in this regard, and smooth the integration of new technologies into everyday working processes.
To discover further insights into how automation is impacting jobs and the steps you can take to prepare, get your copy of the Hays What Workers Want Report 2019.
Richard leads specialist recruiting consultants across the sector. He joined Hays in 1991 and quickly worked his way up through the ranks and was appointed Director in 2001.
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