Young People will walk away! Digital Drop In August 2020

Constructing Excellence

In the second of our monthly Digital Drop Ins we heard from Generation 4 Change about how the younger generation and are embracing digital, their frustrations with how the industry approaches digital and how they think we can improve our approach to digital adoption. Caroline Key, National Co-Chair of Generation 4 Change and Project Manager at East Riding Infrastructure & Facilities  and Demi McCoid, Architectural Assistant, East Riding Yorkshire Council shared their views and ideas.

Out-dated processes and systems

We use digital technologies in our everyday lives. The industry relies on ways of working that are based on how they’ve always been done rather than the best way to do it. Young people are trained to use technologies at school, college and university and then when they enter the sector they are quite often excluded from those technologies.

This is how we do things round here!

Culture and mindset are critical. People do what they’ve always done – it’s ingrained in our habits, rituals and beliefs and that is hard to change. Even where systems exist, they are not effectively implemented and people still cling to old ways of working. In one example a CDE was in place but the person printed the document, marked it up manually, scanned it and emailed it back rather than using the system.

People forget how to use the systems and retreat into their comfort zones and old ways of working, so traditional non-digital ways remain the standard way of working.

Instead of rather than as well as…

Once people are comfortable with the technologies they will open up to the possibilities. This is about really understanding what you want the technology to do and implement it in a way that makes life better for the users. Often technologies are implemented in a way that creates more work. Technologies such as talk to text can really make it easier for people to use the technologies in their working life.

COVID 19 has demonstrated how a strong catalyst and business need can drive change. People were forced to use the systems that were already in place but under-utilised. By using the systems on a daily basis they could see the benefits and were starting to push the boundaries of technologies that they couldn’t see the benefit of before.

Avoid technology push!

Jargon and overselling the potential of the systems is counter-productive. This has held back the widespread uptake of BIM and other digital technologies. Remember digitalisation isn’t going to suddenly transform change everything overnight. The fixation of finding a solution to everything often means the perfect gets in the way of the good.

Have a strategy!

Systems get implemented without understanding their purpose and no strategy in place to support their implementation and long-term adoption. This needs strong and strategic leadership to see digitalisation as a solution and ensure that that it is effectively embedded in the organisation.

Stop focussing on STEM

The construction sector always focusses on bringing in people with STEM backgrounds and as such we have an industry dominated by individuals with logical process mindsets, ‘Doers rather than thinkers’. We need to attract transferable and diverse skills into the sector otherwise we will end up doing what we’ve always done.

They’ll walk away…

The message is very clear: the next generation simply won’t put up with archaic systems and processes. Young people will walk away from the industry if they are not able to use digital technologies effectively.


About our digital drop-ins

The Constructing Excellence Digital Group  are holding informal ‘Digital Drop-Ins’ on the third Friday of every month to provide members with an opportunity to share ideas, best practice and seek advice around the key issues impacting our digital journey. Get in touch to find out more.

Our August Participants

  • Alison Nicholl, Constructing Excellence
  • Caroline Key, Co-Chair G4C
  • Demi McCoid, East Riding Yorkshire Council
  • Duncan Reed, Trimble
  • Frederick Levy, Turner & Townsend
  • Peter Nobel, Control Hub
  • Philip Isgar
  • Samantha Fearnly, Watson Laurie
  • Tom Oulton (Chair), Turner & Townsend, Chair CE Yorkshire & Humber and CE Digital Group