With skills and resource issues key ongoing challenges for the industry globally, its more important than ever to keep them in the headlines.
Skills shortages are an all-too-familiar challenge for companies working in the engineering, construction and infrastructure sector. As the world wises up to the need for nations to provide quality, sustainable infrastructure at speed to address a multitude of challenges, the press and media are starting to ask questions about whether the skills and resources gap could hamper countries’ ability to deliver the infrastructure that is so sorely needed.
This week, Danish TV2 News, in a feature highlighting the labour shortages affecting Denmark, a problem they said would only get bigger, asked COWI vice president for Danish operations Henrik Winther the key question, “So what do you do as a company to ensure that you have enough hands and not least brains to solve the tasks that customers come up with?”
Unsurprisingly, Winther was delighted to have the opportunity to outline his views on national television. “In COWI, we are lucky. Last year, we managed to recruit more than 1,800 employees,” he said. “We have focused on creating attractive working conditions, among other things by ensuring six months parental leave for both parents and by prioritising large, complex projects, especially within green transition, which makes it exciting to work for COWI.
“However, there is no doubt that this is a long-term, structural problem. There is a need for us to find solutions at a societal level, including by securing more science graduates through the education system and making it attractive for international employees to work in Denmark – we need them well,” said Winther.
Winther is spot on in his analysis. And given the increasing global need for quality infrastructure and the fact that client expectations are changing at pace with construction companies being asked to deliver and demonstrate increased value – financial and social – and be much more focused on client needs than ever before, it’s even more important that these skills and resource challenges are addressed.
Winther will no doubt address some of these issues when he appears as a panel speaker at FIDIC’s forthcoming annual global infrastructure conference event, which takes place in Singapore on 11-12 September 2023. He will be taking part in a session on Developing a customer-centred approach to infrastructure, which will look at how construction and infrastructure companies can develop a more customer-focused approach that gives clients what they want and need while demonstrating value.
Speaking ahead of the conference to Infrastructure Global, Winther said: “I’m really looking forward to speaking at FIDIC’s annual global gathering of the industry. It’s important that we discuss the key challenges we face and crucially how we address them and frame a collective response.
“When we talk to our customers, their message is clear. They expect that they will need even more resources from us as consultants in the future. In the foreseeable future, the demand for technical experts will continue to be larger than the supply, so as an industry we need to work smarter than today.
“Being future-ready especially requires embracing the technological development. Digitalising our processes and leveraging the possibilities in AI can also help us release time to create more value for our customers.”
Henrik Winther will be speaking on the first day of the FIDIC Global Infrastructure Conference in Singapore at a session on Developing a customer-centred approach to infrastructure. Click here for full details of the conference programme.