Before you can recruit young professionals to the public works space, you must understand what drives them.
Dan Stevens, Partner and Market Sector Manager for Urban Water, and Josiah Simmons, Environmental Engineer, both from Opus presented on this subject at IPWEA’s 2015 conference in Rotorua.
The pair joined forces for the session titled: ‘Our role in developing and mentoring the next generation of public works engineers’ to give a employee/employer perspective of how to engage and retain young professionals in the public works workplace.
“Our challenge is to understand what motivates them and understand how to get the most out of their energy and commitment,” said Stevens of young professionals starting out in the industry.
In particular Stevens emphasised the importance of mentoring programs and cadetships where candidates can get a strong footing in the industry.
“We should see it as a privilege to pass on knowledge that we’ve learned over the years,” Stevens, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry, told delegates.
In addition to formal and informal mentoring schemes, he encouraged employees to implement professional development programs to continue to engage employees throughout their careers with a company.
The session followed on from IPWEA President Michael Kahler’s opening address earlier that day, which highlighted the challenges faced in getting young people into the industry.
Twenty-five-year-old Simmons talked about the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators for his generation. He characterised his peers as having a keen appreciation for technology and interest in the consequences of their actions.
In particular, he emphasised the importance he personally has placed on volunteering and pro-bono work.
“To be part of something bigger than ourselves is something we really value,” said Simmons, who has worked with Engineers Without Borders in the past.
The session was hosted by Young IPWEA committee member Megan Bonehill. To find out more about Young IPWEA click here.