There is hope for the futurePublished 17/4 at 11:03
I wrote this editorial column when flying from Stockholm to Jönköping in Sweden, sitting in a 44 passenger, SAAB 340 Turbo Prop airplane. It was an absolutely beautiful day, with not a single cloud in the sky. I landed in the hometown of Husqvarna, but I did not go to see them this time, but rather I attended the annual meeting of the joint Swedish association of concrete cutters and demolition contractors, BFB.
Following that, I headed to Aquajet Systems Hydrodemolition Days in Holsbybrunn just outside the city of Vetlanda. These all made for a quite a hectic day focused on concrete cutting, demolition and hydrodemolition.
When listening to the speeches at the BFB meeting, it struck me that the participants were quite a good mix of different ages. The youngest was maybe around 20, and the oldest around 70. What was also good to see, was that there were also women concrete cutters in the audience. Ideally there would of course have been more women present, but the fact is that their numbers are growing in this field which is quite promising. What is also of interest, was that these women were rather young, mainly in their 30s.
I myself have just reached the ripe old age of 57 - how did that happen? I feel that I am still 27! I don’t think I’ll ever get older than that. Well retirement is not that far away; here in Sweden people tend to retire between the ages of 63 and 65, if they retire at all. Swedish concrete cutters and demolition contractors tend to stay working, part time if not full time, until they draw their dying breath. But of course nothing can be taken for granted. No one knows how much time one has, so it is important to enjoy life every day as long as we still live.
Some years ago, there was quite a lot of concern that too few young people had decided to work in concrete cutting and demolition. That is not my feeling anymore, as the age cross section at the BFB meeting suggests. What was also good to see, was the contribution of the younger members of the audience, who made a number of excellent and intelligent suggestions on how to improve working conditions for concrete cutters and demolition contractors.
Since 1998, we have organised the Swedish demolition and concrete cutting show, DEMCON, in Stockholm. Over the last three to five years the number of younger people working within demolition and concrete cutting have increased dramatically, which is very positive, with an exhibition such as DEMCON showing this trend very clearly. In Sweden, I think there are many reasons for this, as the fields of concrete cutting and demolition today provide quite an interesting career opportunity for the younger generation to work with more advanced methods. Essentially, the job is not just manual labour, with today’s professionals being well trained and specialised in their particular fields of expertise.
It is not just with the contractors that we find growing numbers of young people on the staff. For instance, at Aquajet Systems, the manufacturers of hydrodemolition equipment, the staff is also ‘young’. Head of development, Ronnie Hilmersson, is only in his early 30s, and inconjunction with his young team, recently instigated a number of innovations and developments which were shown at the company’s Hydrodemolition Days.
All of this means that I am very optimistic, with the future of the concrete cutting and demolition industries being in good, and young hands.