We need more people, particularly women, in this industry

Published 16/5 at 11:59

The year is flying by and in the UK we are not complaining about that. For us, that means the weather is finally starting to brighten up and, if we are lucky, we will get two weeks of summer and sunshine to enjoy.

You know we Brits love to talk about the weather. There is no doubt that productivity in our industry rises during the summer months. I am sure our teams are very professional and are trained to tackle any conditions thrown at them, but it makes a real difference to the levels of work we can achieve when the weather is fine.
Of course, the sun was not very far away during the CSDA Convention in Puerto Rico in March. It was a terrific event, which highlighted many of the issues facing our industry, one of which was around health and safety, which I will tackle in a future column.
I hosted a panel event on women in the industry, which produced good debate and proved the industry is very open to having more females come through in a range of roles, which is very encouraging and is vital if we are to sustain our great specialist sector.
What is interesting is still the lack of people, not just women, coming into concrete sawing and diamond drilling generally.
Donald Trump won the US presidential election on a ticket of American jobs for American people. However, I know from speaking to the US association in Puerto Rico that they just cannot get workers to fulfil the roles that are required.
It was a topic that came up not only with Americans but with Europeans and others from around the world too. There is no question that we have the same issue in the UK. Finding good people remains a challenge and selling this as a career to young people, when their parents often want them to go to university and find an office job, is not always easy.
In the UK, we recently held an Open Doors initiative through Build UK where 209 sites welcomed more than 5,000 visitors to give people, especially youngsters, an insight into what happens on a construction site and the myriad of opportunities that are available.
Perhaps, at times, we in the industry take for granted the level of skill required and the many different jobs that are on offer and it was great to be able to see the interest from the public in this event. It is a new initiative and can only help in selling our industry to our future potential workforce.
Through Build UK, we are also bringing together a plan of action to engage with schools and to present construction in a completely new way. This will begin in September, in line with the new school year in the UK.
As well as the CSDA Convention, we also enjoyed the BeBoSa exhibition in Germany where new records were set for attendance as more than 2,200 visitors took in the event. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and there was some very interesting new technology on show, which was enjoyed by visitors from all over the world.
I know plans are now already afoot for the next event in 2020, one year after Bauma, and I know that there are firm commitments in place from some of the major manufacturers to be there.
And that brings me back to where I started wit the weather and the very exciting news that next year’s CSDA Convention will return to Hawaii in 2018. Even though this year’s event saw an improvement on visitor numbers, Hawaii is always very popular and the organiser is already forecasting record numbers.
Finally, I must urge you to book for the IACDS 2017 Annual Convention which takes place in Vienna between 18 -20 May. It’s going to be a new-look event with lots of different, great topics on the agenda. 
To register, log onto: http://www.iacds.org/convention/iacds2017/registration 

Julie White, President of IACDS

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