Safeguarding a crucial industry sector to secure its future success


A key discussion on skills involving infrastructure leaders is expected to lead to solutions that can help future-proof the sector.

A skills and capacity discussion group held at FIDIC’s Global Leadership Forum (GLF) Summit in Geneva debated solutions to  a key challenge that is common to many companies operating in today’s engineering, construction and infrastructure sector.

The discussion was led by GLF Advisory Board member, Malani Padayachee-Saman, chief executive officer of MPAMOT, the largest 100% black women-owned engineering and infrastructure development consulting firm of its size, capacity and capability in South Africa. A key question debated was, not only how does the industry address current skills shortages, but also what skills will be needed in five, ten and 15 years’ time?

With countries across the globe all committing to a journey towards net zero a further question around where this resource will come from was sharply posed, so what skills do today’s infrastructure organisations need to develop and what does tomorrow’s engineer look like?

The discussion considered the skills areas and levels at which there were gaps and also how business were responding. As well as hiring new employees with the skills the industry needs, a big effort was underway to ensure that existing employees are retrained or upskilled. Attracting apprentices and graduates was also seen as critical to ‘replenishing’ organisations, but many were facing issues addressing their skills gaps with the chief challenge around that being the ongoing and often relentless pressure to reduce costs.

The leaders present made a commitment to focus on quality not quantity, highlighting the need to provide opportunities for collaboration, developing a more hands-on and interdisciplinary engineering curriculum, enhancing on-the-job training opportunities and developing professional certifications and standards. All of this will be underpinned by a bold marketing approach of the attractiveness and value of a career in the infrastructure sector – a sector that does such amazing work in improving and in some cases transforming people’s quality of life.