Growing demand for civil engineering expertise as infrastructure projects increase
There are clear signs that the future is looking promising for BIM professionals, led by an increase in infrastructure projects. Here we review this emerging demand and how to capitalise on it for your career.
With a boom in infrastructure projects on the horizon, now is the time to bring any civil engineering experience to the fore, or look at how your experience in other sectors can transfer across. As we explore below, this growth is being driven by net zero goals as well as more traditional infrastructure needs, so updating your knowledge on sustainability issues would be a smart move. You might also want to think more openly when it comes to location – the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda means a greater focus on areas outside London and the South East.
Green shoots are appearing
The latest quarterly market review from design and engineering consultancy Arcadis suggests that infrastructure growth is expected to reach 30% in 2021. Added to that, the latest workload trends survey from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association revealed that after two successive quarters of falls, workloads rose in Q4 of 2020. The good news from a career point of view is that nearly 50% of firms in the survey expected headcounts to rise in the coming year.
Why is activity growing?
Much of this growth is being driven by the public sector, with the announcement of a National Infrastructure Strategy by the UK Government alongside November 2020’s Spending Review. The Government is increasing infrastructure spending as part of its aspiration to ‘level up’ the country, support decarbonisation and adapt to climate change. As a country we’ve been underinvesting in infrastructure for the past 40 years, so it really is about time.
A new UK infrastructure bank will also be set up, which is something of a replacement for the European Investment Bank and promises to provide more targeted support.
Where is investment taking place?
Some keys areas being targeted for investment are:
Transport – £23bn funding for HS2 until 2025; developments in transport across cities and towns will be vital to reach the net zero goal by 2050.
Roads – £27.5bn investment in English roads until 2025; progress is finally being made on major projects such as the Lower Thames Crossing, with invitations to tender expected in April 2021, and discussions with shortlisted bidders for the A303 scheme underway.
Energy from Waste – This is an area that’s starting to gather momentum. The Rivenhall EfW project in Essex is due to begin construction later this year, while councils in the North East are currently running the Tees Valley EfW procurement process.
Renewables – The Government is continuing to encourage offshore wind development, aiming to increase its current capacity of 10GW to 40GW by 2030. This should see many more offshore wind projects in the pipeline.
The initial impact of Covid-19 may have put some projects on hold, but infrastructure is now being embraced as a way to stimulate the economy until the private sector kicks in again fully. Added to that, some priorities such as sustainability, net zero and reducing inequalities are now considered to be even more urgent.
What does this mean for BIM roles?
All this should translate into more opportunities for BIM professionals, as they work within civil engineering to create better quality projects more efficiently and cost-effectively. And as our recent salary guide, trends and predictions showed, there is still a shortage of talent, especially for project-funded roles. Whether you’re actively looking for your next career move, or beginning to think about a change, there should soon be plenty of possibilities on the horizon.