In the rush created by digitisation – there is a danger that good old practical skills learnt by working in the field are being eroded.
Companies are reporting that more recent junior staff are preferring to work digitally than don boots and gloves and dig for data.
What-is-more there is an increasing divide between fieldworkers and assessors and analysers back in the office. It is essential that there is an understanding between those doing the assessments and those in the field.
The industry needs more collaboration not less – particularly as new disciplines like Biodiversity Net Gain and carbon accounting enter the brownfield arena.
The industry is up against other sectors in attracting the brightest and the best graduates. There is general agreement that it has been slow to adapt to digitisation. This hasn’t been helped by a lack of common data standards. Is there a role for brownfield practitioners to get out and about promoting the industry in universities?
Companies are reporting concerns about the provenance of data. Outsourcing and reliance on remote instruments is on the rise. The industry needs the skills to analyse the veracity of the data and the context it was captured to have confidence is the assessments and outcomes.
It also needs skills in data management. How many times have we heard tales of too many spreadsheets and inability to see the wood for the trees? Are data managers brought in with a danger of further increasing divisions, or are they trained in house?
Is it time to ramp up apprenticeship schemes? The government seems keen on this route. SEPA reports that its model of giving graduates several months in different departments is working and leading to more efficient practices. And particularly when it comes to applying digital analytical skills. Is this the best route to go? Can companies and organisations afford it? Can the industry afford not to?