Built Environment Change Makers appointed to help shape the future of construction

Mila Duncheva, lecturer in Architectural Technology at Edinburgh Napier University

A GROUP of 12 young professionals from the built environment and construction sector have formed an alliance to make sure the voices of the next generation are heard in creating an inclusive industry that is fit for the future.

The Built Environment Change Makers are supported by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and represent the full building life cycle, with a diverse mix of sector specialisms – from architecture and design to project management, digital systems and research and development.

Launching at an online event on 28 October, the collective will share their vision for the future of the sector and set out the required actions to achieve it. They will be joined by Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise.

The group has been established to develop opportunities and build resilience in the workforce, so that the sector can transform in a way that is sustainable, inclusive and fair. Collaboration is at the top of the agenda, with plans to connect with the industry and work with leaders to share the perspectives of young people coming into the sector.

Four priority areas have been identified: skills and career development; equality, diversity and inclusion; sustainability and digitalisation. Initial actions proposed by the Built Environment Change Makers include developing an online tool to raise awareness of career opportunities, greater support for work experience and internships, and a toolkit for better collaboration between remote teams.

Mila Duncheva, lecturer in Architectural Technology at Edinburgh Napier University and chair of the Built Environment Change Makers, said: “Young people are typically an under-represented group at leadership level, yet there are fresh perspectives and ideas that could play an important role in shaping the future of the construction sector. We’re hoping to help change perceptions, improve diversity and help to tackle some of the skills gaps the sector faces in areas such as sustainability and digitalisation. Inter-generational collaboration across the industry could be a crucial tool in helping to address these challenges.

“At our launch event, and in the weeks that follow, we are aiming to open the door to collaboration and build relationships with other professionals to help accelerate the transformation needed to attract talent into the sector and create a welcoming working environment.”

At the core of the Built Environment Change Makers is a facilitation team of four, led by the group’s chair, Mila Duncheva, who will drive future plans and coordinate upcoming activities. The team also includes Rory Doak, a project manager at Stora Enso Building Solutions, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cross-laminated timber; Aisling O’Reilly, from the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh; and Emily Carr, architect and design manager at Kier.

Lisa Deane, head of programme performance at CSIC, added: “The construction sector is transforming and innovating at a rapid pace, both following the Covid-19 pandemic and in response to the climate emergency. We’re now looking to young people with drive, ambition and determination to help shape the industry’s future, ensuring insights from the next generation are brought to the table at such a pivotal time.

“The group has already connected with the Scottish Construction Leadership Forum and Construction Industry Training Board, and we’d encourage the rest of the sector to engage with them as far as possible to bring a valuable, fresh perspective to different areas of the industry.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Built Environment Change Makers and potentially working with the group is invited to join the launch event: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3561273500726647310

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