I take my role as a grandpa seriously and spend time visiting my granddaughter (and daughter and son-in-law). I have been able to combine my hobby of tinkering with my visits by making improvements and building a fancy fort and swing set in their recently purchased home. I am pleased that my two-year-old granddaughter takes her role as tinkerers assistant very seriously and shadows me as I work on various tasks around the house. Not only does she love to play with the tools but she will watch closely what her parents or I am doing and can be seen copying the efforts with spare tools in her fort. She has no lack of electronic toys and limited access to television, but she has a real interest in putting things together with spare materials or with Legos. As we bemoan the lack of skilled craftspeople in the construction industry it is heartening to see that building can compete with all the other distractions that children currently have. I look forward to bringing my granddaughter the miniature workbench that my father built for me and that my daughter played with through her childhood. I don’t know what direction my granddaughter’s development will take but I know that she will continue to have a knowledge of the role of craftsmanship in the world that we live in and how it has a direct impact on how we live.
We need to focus on how to interest not just Millennials, but Gen Z and Gen Alpha children in the construction and engineering industry. These are the future engineers and managers that will continue to bring 21st century tools and ideas to our industry and that will provide the ingenuity to take our infrastructure to unimagined levels of dependability and ease of use. Equally important, we need to recognize the need to train and mentor in both directions, so that new members of the industry get the benefit of the experience of seasoned professionals and to help seasoned professionals close the technology gap that is evident in our industry.