Canadian Consulting Engineer

The ACEC HR Video Has Taken Off!

I n June 2008, the board of the Association of Canadian Engineering Companies (ACEC) made the historic decision to produce a video illustrating that consulting engineering is an exciting and rewarding...

August 1, 2008   By Wendy Cooper And Chris Newcomb, Co-Chairs, ACEC Video Task Force

I n June 2008, the board of the Association of Canadian Engineering Companies (ACEC) made the historic decision to produce a video illustrating that consulting engineering is an exciting and rewarding career choice, and to implement a communications plan to deliver this message to engineering students across the country.

Many trades and professions will suffer skills shortages in the coming years, and the member firms of ACEC will be no exception. In response, the association recently adopted a new area of strategic focus — human resources sustainability — and is developing a video to promote the consulting engineering industry to young people.

Engineering students today have a wide range of career choices, including government, construction, manufacturing, resource industries, man- agement consulting, and information technology. Only a small portion of students will enter the consulting industry. While consulting engineers take for granted that the industry is varied, fascinating, people-oriented, challenging, and rewarding, ACEC wanted to find out whether engineering students understood that too.

As part of the video project, ACEC facilitated student discussion groups in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancou- ver and Edmonton in June 2008. The discussions confirmed that consulting engineering is either misunderstood by, or invisible to, the current generation of engineering students.

If engineering firms are not able to attract engineering students in sufficient quantity and quality to be able to continue providing their clients with capacity and specialist expertise, then the clients will instead hire the engineers and revert to doing their work inhouse, with the result that engineering firms will eventually wither. There is no divine right by which the Canadian consulting engineering industry must exist; it has prospered solely because it offers capacity, value and innovation to a marketplace that will turn to alternative mechanisms if needed.

The inspiration for ACEC’s video project came from a video produced by the Australian Consulting Engineers and targeting high school students. It is dynamic and informative, and does a great job of arousing curiosity in the consulting engineering industry. It can be viewed on YouTube at http://au. youtube.com/ watch?v=3lcorL9TCcU.

The Canadian video will be designed to retain the energy and visual appeal of the Australian version, but will target university engineering students, and highlight aspects of consulting engineering that will resonate with this generation. Specifically, it will speak to their desire to do work of societal significance, to be part of an integrated team, and to provide solutions to the challenges facing our built and natural environengineering ment. The video will feature consulting engineers, mostly of the younger generation, speaking sincerely about their passion for the consulting industry and for their projects. By presenting examples to demonstrate that the career aspirations of today’s students can be realised in the world of consulting engineering, it is hoped that the video will banish the myth that the consultant’s role is that of a sole practitioner, dispensing sage advice on very narrow aspects of a given project.

ACEC has retained the services of Mediafuel Corporation of Oakville, Ontario to produce the Canadian video, and Blueprint Public Relations (BPR) of Ottawa to design and implement the communications plan. Both firms have impressive credentials in their field, and an excellent understanding of the consulting engineering industry. ACEC member firms have submitted more than 100 outstanding projects to feature in the video, and these are currently being short-listed to 10 or fewer for filming during August and September of this year. Filming will include on-site interviews with many of the young consulting engineers who have been involved in the delivery of these projects.

The video will be produced in both English and French language versions, and should be ready for circulation in early 2009.

Members of the ACEC Video Task Force include: Chris Newcomb, British Columbia (Co-Chair); Wendy Cooper, Alberta (Co-Chair); Roland LeBlanc, New Brunswick; Bob Martin, Ontario; Roger Urquhart, Quebec; Susie Grynol, ACEC -Ottawa.


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