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Aug 22

Two Day Hackathon Encourages Young Construction Leaders


With statistics showing the construction sector struggles to attract and retain people in the early stages of their career, a steering group of young professionals has been established to try and identify the reasons for this, and how collectively the industry can make construction careers more diverse and appealing.

Supported by industry-leading companies, the Future Innovation Group held its first two-day Hackathon last week (28-29 July) at the Hilton Hotel in Hull. Our architect, Jacob Peplow and architectural assistant, Marie Braithwaite joined almost 50 other professionals from across the UK and Ireland to participate in a series of activities and discussions focused on making the sector more inclusive and cohesive.

“At the start of the hackathon, we divided into five groups comprising graduates, university/year out students, and newly qualified professionals from multi-disciplinary backgrounds,” explains Jacob. “Each group was given two questions to consider and had to develop a strategic proposal outlining where the industry can improve. Our conversations focused on two strands; the first surrounding a standardisation of processes and tools including the idea of an industry ‘black box’ as a universally accessible source of knowledge, and the second on personalisation and making sure your career fits you and your skillset.”

Marie adds: “Our group discussed the stereotyping that still exists in construction. There are too many perceptions of construction as either just bricklaying, or that it’s completely unglamourous and low skilled. Our suggestion for tackling this was to focus on education and awareness. Firstly, the connections between schools, universities and businesses should be broadened so that people are more aware of the different vocational and academic courses available from a young age.

“Secondly, there should be more encouragement to use social media to explain job roles; the ‘day in the life’ TikTok/Instagram trend could be used to help school leavers, undergraduates and professionals from other disciplines to understand different roles and how they work together.”

Further topics discussed during the Hackathon included the question of access and removing the barrier for young people by engaging more at school level; mental health, expectations for time management and a potential ‘output not hours’ incentive; and the importance of moving away from the race to the bottom.

Jacob concluded: “One of the interesting statistics shared by the Group was that approximately 23% of the industry is set to retire in the next ten years, meaning there will be significant roles to fill. This is good news for those looking to advance up the career ladder but only if the pipeline at junior and middle management levels remains healthy. Events like this Hackathon, which targeted the under 35s, are so important to build a network and broaden experience.

“The intention now is for all companies involved to action specific outputs, thereby continuing this important and exciting conversation about changing the future of the construction industry.”

The Future Innovation Group was also supported by Morgan Sindall, Pagabo, Pick Everard, Wates, ISG and Faithful+Gould. Here at Race Cottam, we proudly champion young talent by offering work placements, delivering guest presentations on careers in architecture at local school and colleges, and encouraging our team to join young professional networking groups. If you’d like to get involved with the next Future Innovation Group, or would like more information about opportunities at Race Cottam, please contact Jacob or Marie.