Young people are needed
in the construction industry!
During my work as Product Owner at Doka, for the app Smart Pouring, in a way a predecessor of SEQUELLO, I repeatedly had to deal with foremen from a wide variety of construction companies. In larger rounds, I liked to ask them: “Who has ever had it happen to them that they poured the wrong concrete into a formwork?”. Almost no one raised their hand at that. In response to the counter question, “Who knows someone to whom this has happened?” usually all hands went up.
It’s clear to me where this comes from. Mistakes in construction are expensive and in the worst case cost lives. This “zero tolerance” policy against failure is manifested in the industry and puts the brakes on innovation. No one wants to try something new because the fear of making mistakes prevails. In my view, this stifled innovation is partly to blame for the stagnating productivity gains in the construction industry.
In addition to the lack of productivity growth, the industry is facing several other problems caused by the shortage of skilled workers, climate change and the natural disasters associated with it. To “tackle” these mega-problems, a new mindset and culture are needed that leaves room for innovation, but also mistakes.
Startups and innovative solutions now exist for various use cases and areas in the construction industry. How can these new approaches find their way into companies?
Recognizing and promoting the value of youth
If you look around the construction industry, you’ll see that software used in the field for years is still being used in schools. However, testing new approaches already with the younger generation, and thus bringing them into practice, only takes place to a limited extent.
In fact, the exact opposite is the case. The youngsters are first confronted with standard methods and processes when they start their careers. Start-ups and companies offering innovative solutions should focus more on cooperation with schools and universities. Construction companies need to give them more room to test and introduce new methods.
In my current role, as a teacher of construction operations and management at the Camillo Sitte Bautechnikum in Vienna, it is a personal concern of mine to introduce students to the latest ideas from start-ups and innovative companies at an early age. I am sure that anyone who learns how to use new tools and solutions while still at school will later be able to use them on the construction site and perhaps develop them further.
In the long run, I hope that this will increase the interest of young people to work in the construction industry as aspiring technicians and that they will bring the right drive to tackle the big problems of our time.
Prof. Dipl.Ing. Jörg Westreicher, BSc