Expert opinion: Tom Higgins
Article by Lucy Roe
Manchester Evening News (MEN)
Image courtesy of MEN
Forget commercial negotiations and business deals, there is nothing as nerve-racking as standing on a stage in front of 30 teenagers; each of them looking at you silently saying ‘come on then, inspire me.’
That was my challenge recently when I was invited to sell in the merits of a career in the construction industry to a group of GCSE students at St Ambrose Barlow Roman Catholic High School, Salford.
It is something I don’t do enough, but I have set myself a New Year resolution to take part in at least six school engagement activities during 2016.
I make a shameless plea to my fellow professionals to do the same. It is only by sharing experiences and enthusing about our industry that we’ll attract the talent of tomorrow.
To many, the construction, engineering and property world is somewhat of an enigma. People know that we ultimately build stuff but they have no idea how many disciplines come together to get the job done.
Nor, rarely do they understand that as technology moves on; so too do our skills requirements – so the teenage gaming enthusiast of today has exactly the skills our industry needs to digitally design and virtually build before a spade gets near the ground.
And when you’re sitting in a maths class, your head aching with the rules of trigonometry – little do you realise that engineers the world over are applying those principles as they debate whether a beautifully drawn skyscraper with its own unique signature twist can actually be built.
The career opportunities on offer within our industry are exciting. They require a multitude of disciplines and if we’re going to deliver our future cities differently, we need a diverse workforce; one ready to challenge norms and think imaginatively.
The talk I was giving came about through the Design, Engineer, Construct (DEC) initiative, run at St Ambrose, a school built by Laing O’Rourke and one we have maintained a relationship with since.
Working closely together we have helped inform an Ofqual accredited curriculum and through a year our employees visit the school delivering activities and building challenges.
The reaction is phenomenal with students suddenly seeing how their science, tech and maths skills can be applied to the buildings and infrastructure around them.