Young members matter31 October 2014
In the last 15 months there has been a flourish of countries establishing Young Member Groups in tunnelling organisations, and that includes both Canada and the US. In May the ITA General Assembly in Brazil approved the creation of an ITA Young Members Group. Its mission is to “bridge the generation gap and provide a technical network platform for young professionals in the tunnelling and underground space industry."
This is good for the industry, but just a first step of many. The Millennial Generation is estimated to number 80 million in the US, making it the largest generation in history, and more than seven million in Canada, the second largest generation following baby boomers by a mere two per cent. Professional organisations such as UCA and TAC need to see this reflected in their membership as well.
Create opportunities for staff, especially those under age 35, to attend industry events such as this month's TAC conference in Vancouver. Worldwide, the industry offers an abundance of conferences and exhibits related to tunnelling, underground contstruction, geotechincal engineering and more. There is definitely a price associated with this sort of committement, so it is fortunate that TAC organises a world class event designed to highlight advancements in tunnelling research and practice from around the globe, while also meeting the diverse needs of attendees.
In addition to the technical program, the conference will include panel discussions, technical tours to the Port Mann Water Tunnel and the Evergreen Line Tunnel, workshops and a short course on "Reliability Methods in the Design of Underground Works."
While the Millennial Generation may excel in areas of social media and web conferencing there is still an advantage to networking, attending a lecture or forum and holding a discussion in person. And while it is beneficial to attract younger engineers to the industry, and to find ways to engage with one another, there is still plenty of knowledge and experience from older generations that can be shared.
Beyond annual conferences such as TAC's, or UCA's RETC and NAT, encourage staff to seek out professional development opportunities, continuing education and other networking events even if they're not related to tunnelling.
This is a generation raised on "group projects" and team building activities. For Canada and the US the sheer size of the countries does limit the potential for regular interaction beyond province or state, or even city.
The industry stands to gain the most when these Young Member groups are supported and encouraged to collaborate with national groups.
Let's bring the average age of conference attendees down.