Investment in new technologies and future talent in built environment required to boost Birmingham as a sustainable 21C city

Collaborative investment in future talent, skills and new technologies in the built environment will be fundamental for Birmingham to deliver a ten-year transformational plan, according to industry leaders at the latest Building Brum Network event.

The Into the Future event which will be hosted by RICS at their new 55 Colmore Row base tonight (Thursday 31 January), will convene professionals from the built environment to hear from Birmingham City Council’s Programme Director for Birmingham2022, Neil Carney, on how the upcoming Commonwealth Games developments support the growth of the city and how the legacy opportunities can result in significant investment in the city and region.

After access to finance, one of the biggest inhibitions to growth in Midlands construction and infrastructure is a lack of skilled professionals. According to the RICS Construction & Infrastructure Market Survey, the Midlands suffers the worst shortage of quantity surveyors in the UK and is in line with the national average for a shortage of other skilled professionals, including architects and civil engineers.

With this in mind, the Building Brum event will highlight how investment in skills and new technologies is vital to help alleviate future challenges, including urbanisation and resource scarcity, but can also provide a positive impact on UK cities, like Birmingham.

Neil Carney, Birmingham City Council’s Programme Director for Birmingham 2022, commented:

“The long-term legacy for Birmingham’s citizens and communities is the reason why we at the forefront of the successful bid to bring the Games to the city and the wider West Midlands.

“Birmingham 2022 gives us a fantastic platform to promote the city and wider region to the world, showcasing the best of who we are and what we do and creating opportunities for longer term trade, investment and tourism.

“If we are to harness the potential the event offers for us, we need to ensure the skills base is in place along with the necessary technology and infrastructure to ensure we gain the full benefit of the sustainable growth the Commonwealth Games can enable.”

Sally Garcia, RICS Future Talent Director commented:

“According to the UN, by 2050 almost two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities resulting in the next generation of built environment professionals facing challenges that have never been seen before. Innovative ideas to tackle growing urbanisation and resource scarcity will only succeed if they are forged in richly diverse settings. Institutions and companies in the built environment are already making great strides in capturing new talent, but to equip our professionals of the future and to deliver the cities that people will want to live, work and play in we need to diversify our engagement with people from a young age.

“At RICS, we are actively building a network of ambassadors to join our Inspire campaign and as the end point assessment organisation for Level 6 Chartered Surveying Apprenticeships, RICS has seen substantial growth in the number of people starting an apprenticeship with surveying firms over the last three years. We are also working with other institutions to ensure that we can engage with government to highlight skills shortages and the impact this will have on the future of UK innovation and investment”

Ben Senior, Project Director at Arcadis and RICS Young Surveyor of the Year for Project Management, commented:

“Companies are already disrupting the way they work by using existing technologies such as Virtual Reality, Photogrammetry and Generative and Parametric Design, as well as drones and 3D printing to deliver projects to the client quicker and in a full 360 perspective. However, it will be technologies like data analytics and machine learning that will transform how future businesses operate. The use of data will be instrumental to provide clients and projects deeper insights into building and reshaping our cities.”

The sold-out event, sponsored by Orangbox, Interface, dline eisenware, Schluter Systems and EH Smith, brings together industry professionals from the field of surveying, architecture, planning and engineering and includes further exhibitions and speeches from Arcadis, Acivico, GVA, Glenn Howells Architects and Nigel Mason, RICS Regional Board, West Midlands Chair.