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Comment | Keeping up with the times

Nathan Baker

Skills transformation to transform industry.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel: a name synonymous with our profession. Brunel was innovative, influential, and valuable. He took actions that fundamentally transformed the industry and the society in which he lived.

But what if we transported him into the 21st Century? He would need to get up to speed on a raft of things - from new materials and equipment through to new construction techniques. He would have to transform his skills set.

Is that situation really so different for today’s civil engineers?

The landscape in which we do business has changed, opportunities and challenges are fast-moving, global and complex.

Data standards, technologies and methods of construction go in and out of fashion, new markets and sectors develop, regulatory requirements change.

We are also faced with a growing and urbanising world population. Limited resources and a changing climate demands more resilient, sustainable infrastructure - and two years ago Government’s Construction 2025 strategy set the sector transformational targets for faster delivery and lower costs.

So we too need to transform our skills set, and ensure the world around the construction industry doesn’t transform quicker than the industry itself. We need to continually adapt to the needs of a fluid, diverse global environment.

Many would argue that our industry - and indeed institutions like the ICE that support it - has traditionally struggled to embed innovation, new working practices and technological advances into everyday practice.

It isn’t easy - industry wide change doesn’t happen overnight. But we can each individually seek to update our skills and advance our knowledge.

The ICE clearly has a role to play here - lifelong learning sits at the heart of what we do. In order to drive more rapid progress on the Construction 2025 vision, our industry transformation programme will help members improve their understanding on four key areas:

  • Building information modelling and digital engineering
  • Clients, collaboration and connections
  • New methods and processes
  • Asset and data management

We will direct members towards the right knowledge, at the right time and at the right level.

The way people want to learn has changed, so it will also be in the right format - whether through courses, conferences, blogs, webinars, e-learning, case studies, exhibitions or journals.

The ICE has 86,000 members, if each member worked to transform their own skill sets, collectively we will have the power to transform on a wider scale. Find out more and get involved at

  • Nathan Baker is ICE director of engineering knowledge

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