Currently, there are 1.8 billion young people aged 10 to 24, making up the largest youth generation in history. This population is essential in creating a better future, as they possess valuable qualities such as creativity, innovation and a strong drive to improve the world. Based on a survey conducted by the United Nations, 67% of people believe in a better future, with 15 to 17 year-olds being the most optimistic about this. The construction industry could benefit greatly from these qualities and optimistic views, but the question remains: is it appealing enough to attract them?

This month at Reincarnate, we are having a discussion with the young people who are working on the project. The construction industry has been facing a talent shortage for many years, with older workers retiring and younger generations showing reluctance to pursue careers in this field. In European countries like Belgium, there has been a severe shortage of candidates for construction positions due to the negative perception that it is a physically demanding job.

Digitalisation and circular economy attracting young workforce

As technology advances, demographics shift and climate change and globalisation continue, the nature of work is transforming. Automation is replacing manual labour while the population ages, and migration and worker mobility are increasing. The move towards sustainable economic growth is also altering skill requirements across all industries. Construction, a labour-intensive field, is no exception to these changes.

Observing advanced technology such as robots, drones and artificial intelligence in use can have a positive impact on attracting younger workers. Additionally, issues that affect multiple generations, such as climate change, are of interest to young leaders who are eager to help develop long-lasting solutions. The most recent World Circular Economy Forum 2023 showcased the value of involving young voices in discussions about circular practices, as they bring fresh and innovative ideas. The young leaders at the Forum emphasised that “no decisions concerning them should be made without them.” 


European upskilling initiatives 

The European Union is making efforts to engage younger generations in the construction industry. In 2020, the European Commission introduced the Pact for Skills initiative to promote the development of skills and retraining for individuals in the construction field. The partnership has set a goal to enhance the skills of at least 25% of the construction workforce in the next five years, which accounts for approximately three million workers. The primary focus areas for skill development include energy efficiency, circular economy, and digitalisation.

The partnership aims to support the construction sector in adopting green and digital practices and achieving the objectives outlined in the EU Renovation Wave. This will also improve the sector’s resilience and attractiveness. The EU Renovation Wave focuses on addressing energy poverty, renovating poorly performing buildings, and decarbonizing heating and cooling. These goals are aligned with the New European Bauhaus and other EU building initiatives such as BUILD UP, BUILD UP SKILLS, 4RinEU, and the European Alliance for Apprenticeships initiatives. The last initiative aims to improve the quality and image of apprenticeships, enhancing mobility and encouraging more young people to pursue careers in construction.

Additionally, in the previous year, the European Union focused its attention on youth and this year, it is implementing the European Year of Skills. Both of these initiatives prioritise the development of green and digital skills necessary for quality employment opportunities, with a particular emphasis on ensuring a socially equitable transition, including younger generations. Investing in skills is critical in the coming years, as it can provide young individuals with a strong foundation for a prosperous career. This point was highlighted by Jürgen Siebel, the Executive Director of Cedefop, during a meeting at the European Parliament last year.

Reincarnate’s mission to empower the young generation

The Reincarnate project is focused on making a positive impact on the industry and society, including the young population. One of its goals is to improve the attractiveness and safety of the sector. According to the United Nations, half of the people on our planet are 30 or younger, and this is expected to reach 57% by the end of 2030. Through innovative solutions, Reincarnate aims to increase the number of young workers (Generation Z) who are interested in working with new systems. By 2030, the project will have achieved an “SRL 8: Solution and societal adaptation completed and qualified”. This means that 10% of the EU labour force will have gained the skills to fully operate a circular information system, resulting in the creation of over 10 new job profiles dedicated to its operation and maintenance. 

The profiles we aimed to create will be, for instance, the Digital Ethics Officer, who oversees the development, implementation and monitoring of ethics and compliance tools, and the Digital Mentor, who helps personnel become comfortable working with technology, with a focus on older workers who may be hesitant. Thanks to Reincarnate, there will be a 15% increase in new jobs filled by young workers, attracted by the opportunity to work with innovative systems.

Reincarnate values the input of young voices not only in the final results but also in the process and growth of the project. During the implementation of the Reincarnate project, two partners actively engaged young people in our technical and social developments. As the leading entity, the Technical University of Berlin offered a PhD position to support the demonstration of our ten real-life European projects and robotic upgrade innovations for construction. Another partner, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, who focused on the social approach of the project, called for PhD candidates to work on our circular and sustainable innovations. 

Stay tuned to the viewpoints of the young people working on the Reincarnate project throughout this month and don’t miss out on our developments! 


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