In the construction industry, as everywhere else where technology is concerned, there is an acute shortage of skilled workers. Competition for the best talent is coming to a head. (Image above: Christian Wasserfallen)
The answers from Christian Wasserfallen, National Councillor President of the Board of Directors of Walo Bertschinger AG in Bern:
When and in what context did you first hear about Engineers' Day (then Engineers' Day)?
As a graduate mechanical engineer FH and member of Swiss Engineering, to the best of my recollection, I first heard about Engineers' Day back in 2018, when it was launched. This was widely communicated at the time.
Your company is now participating in Engineers' Day as a donor for the fourth time. Why are you involved in this event?
In the construction industry, as everywhere else where technology is concerned, there is an acute shortage of skilled workers. The competition for the best talent is intensifying. That's why the WALO Group wants to support the promotion of young talent in vocational apprenticeships, in further training and in the field of university engineers. We train apprentices in many specialist areas and also want to attract the best people in the field of engineering. Engineers' Day offers engineering a special stage where we don't just want to sit in the audience, we want to be actively involved. We want to build the future with them.
What goal or goals would you highlight as the most important priority in terms of your involvement in Engineers' Day or in everyday life?
For us, it's about visibility as a company in the construction industry and raising awareness that in infrastructure construction, our core field, high-quality structures can only be built if they are not only planned by well-trained engineers but can also be implemented sustainably and cost-effectively in the realization projects. It is also very important to us to show young women in particular the design possibilities in construction projects. We do this in particular in the area of vocational training and management training.
Why do you think engineers and their achievements are not perceived enough in everyday life, and what can engineers do about it?
Our profession is highly complex and many fail to realize that it is, in principle, the most creative task imaginable. Be it buildings, machines, vehicles, electronics, etc., we need engineers. Without engineers, nothing would work here. Everyone wants to get from A to B safely in a state-of-the-art car, drive through tunnels, over bridges. Others travel by train and want to be mobile during the journey. The accumulated engineering skills make it possible that this is possible at all, that it happens safely, and that we in Switzerland set standards in terms of technological development and infrastructure quality. The question is: "Who invented it and made it possible? -Our engineers!"
If you had one wish to have an even greater influence on the promotion of young talent, who would it be and what would it be?
I wish that mathematics, an important but very challenging discipline in engineering studies, would be easy for all students. So if there's one thing I can wish for, it's the disappearance of the statement, "I'd love to study engineering if it weren't for that math."
Do you have another wish related to Engineers' Day?
I would like to see a visualization of what engineers, for example, have done on a building. This so that people and potential young talent can quickly get an idea of what work can all be done in engineering.
What do you see as the most important future challenges for which we urgently need more engineers?
The upheavals in society and the economy require more and more technologies at an ever faster cadence. It took about 60 years for 80% of Americans to own a phone. With the smartphone, achieving the same penetration rate took only about 7 to 8 years. There are huge investment projects in infrastructure construction, we all want to become more mobile, be able to work digitally everywhere, etc. That assumes that all technologies can be used for the benefit of people. This is a gigantic, creative and, above all, very satisfying challenge for engineers.
Thank you very much for this interview.
Further information on WALO: WALO Group / Walo Bertschinger AG