Skills & Employment: ‘Future of Engineering’ in The Times

New writing… Pleased to say I have had another article published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on the Future of Engineering.

Demand for engineering skills in the UK could mean onboarding as many as 265,000 new recruits a year through to 2024, equivalent to the population of Plymouth, every 12 months. That is a lot of engineers. However, locked in the grip of a choking skills shortage right now, the engineering sector faces tough questions about how best to attract those new recruits and equip them for lifelong employment. What combination of soft skills and hard technical proficiency will prove a good fit in the modern working environment? Are UK universities and colleges providing graduates and leavers with the necessary mix? Are employers helping an ageing workforce adapt to the demands of an increasingly digital job spec? Could more be done to assist experienced engineers with transferable skillsets transition from declining industries into new markets? Is the Apprenticeship Levy a stealth tax, or a boon? For expert insights into what skills engineers of the future might need, you can read the full article here:

‘Soft Skills and Hard Truths in Employment’.

The full 16-page Future of Engineering report is available to view/download here.

Circularity: ‘Future of Construction’ in The Times

New writing… Pleased to say I have had another article published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on the Future of Construction.

BAMB is on a mission: its goal is a systemic shift in sustainable building; its focus, construction waste and material consumption. As the name implies, Buildings as Material Banks (BAMB) reimagines a building as a dynamic repository of value, where tradable material assets can be deposited, data tracked, transferred and withdrawn. Three major changes support the BAMB vision for circular transition: change in design culture, value definition and collaboration. The question is, can a relatively traditional industry such as construction truly embrace the systemic change called for by a circular economy? What would such a shift mean in terms of technology, but more imporantly culture? Furthermore, how might it play out worldwide – across global development markets maturing at different speeds, with different histories of urbanisation? Getting down to project particulars, the article also includes a case study of an inner-city school in Swansea, Wales, which has just set new industry standards, achieving 99.87 per cent diversion from landfill. You can read more about both the scale of the material challenge and the exciting opportunities to close the circularity gap, here:

‘BAMB: Could this be the future for sustainable building?’.

The full 16-page Future of Construction & Development report is available to view/download here.

Changing the word on waste: ‘Future of Food’ in The Times

New writing… Pleased to say I have had another article published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on Future of Food.

Despite population growth and increasing famine, 1.6 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted worldwide, every year. With an estimated carbon footprint of 3.3 billion tonnes, this food waste eats up 28 per cent of the world’s agricultural area and drinks enough water to fill Lake Geneva three times. My piece explores some of the many innovations happening worldwide around food waste: from industrial-scale anaerobic digestion, via almond hulls and shells being put to good use in California, to beer made from surplus bread, plus simple sustainability hacks for bartenders that could save over 60,000 limes in London alone. For all the exciting opportunities engaging farmers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and start-ups, however, policymakers still need to come to the party in numbers and force, if the headline stats are really going to change. You can read more about both the ongoing problem and the emerging solutions, here:

‘Rethinking food waste as a resource’.

The full 12-page Future of Food & Beverage report is available to view/download here.

Are you ‘Living the Planetary Dream’?

If you take many of the good things about the concept of the American Dream – such positives as aspiration, opportunity, entrepreneurship, self-realisation, self-reliance, hard work, wealth distribution and financial security – and apply them to living within planetary boundaries, you get a new paradigm for economic and personal growth: ‘Living the Planetary Dream’.

The phrase ‘American Dream’ was coined by historian James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book Epic of America:

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

This original concept was very much built upon key principles and values enshrined in the United States Declaration of Independence of 1776: democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality, in the pursuit of happiness and prosperity.

Tellingly, Adams’ definition was born out of the struggle against poverty, hardship and social injustice engulfing America during the era of the Great Depression. Over the decades since, however, the concept has increasingly been associated in popular culture with images of success measured merely in terms of upward social mobility and accumulation of material wealth. In effect, the ideal has become impoverished, reductively rewritten to serve narrow self-interest in the Age of the Consumer.

Furthermore, the US itself is today one of the most commonly cited examples of extreme unsustainability in terms of ecological footprint, with its citizens’ consumption of natural resources equating to a global demand that would require four Planet Earths to satisfy.

So, what if we were to reclaim the dynamic spirit and sense of social value that informed and inspired the original Dream, but interpret it anew for a resource-constrained world of over-consumption, rampant pollution, morally-corrupt exploitation and human-made climate change? Reframing the core principles for equitable living within planetary boundaries, gives us the vision for the Planetary Dream.

So what does it mean in practice to be Living the Planetary Dream?

First and foremost, it is not simply about environmental frugality. The Dream is not one of efficiency, or abnegation; it is not just about saying ‘No’. There has to be entrepreneurial dynamism to it; an element of value creation, of making and doing in a way that is good and green – innovating responsibly. This is the change-engine of sustainable growth.

Living the Planetary Dream, as a business, community, or private individual, means playing your part in the global decoupling of economic development from resource consumption and environmental impacts; and doing so in a fair and equitable manner.

As a lifestyle choice, the Planetary Dream should ideally also appear fun and exciting – desirable yet achievable. Its motivational spark can be personal, yet shareable – a driver for leaders and collectives alike. It must be a Dream for all of us, as well as for the Planet.

So, are you #LivingthePlanetaryDream?


For more about the Ecology Flag, please see here.