“I had no idea this was so cool”
Most of us in the infrastructure industry has an intrinsic understanding of the extraordinary value our services make to our communities.
We can visualise a society without them or even one where they work less well – and we don’t like the look of that type of society at all!
We become attuned to and almost dismissive of the complexity of our services, never really pausing to think how much is truly going on, how extraordinarily clever some of the solutions are, and the impressive effort needed to make and keep it all working.
We take some very complex and “cool” stuff for granted.
I recently got a reminder of this when I was fortunate enough to be allowed to take my family around a hosted tour of the Oamaru Water Treatment Plant.
I had a pretty good reason for wanting to visit the plant with my family.
I needed some test pilots for my culinary skills and the operators were very obliging (and even complimentary) to my first ever bash at sausage rolls.
I’d been working with this group of operators very closely for several months and they had openly and genuinely welcomed me.
They had put in a huge effort to do all the extra things I was suggesting without complaint and I wanted to make sure they knew how much I appreciated their support and efforts.
I am an avid believer in the value our works bring to our community’s and I share Ross’ concerns about our industries’ ability to attract sufficient talent in coming years.
I decided that doing nothing wasn’t good enough.
I am under no illusion that taking one family to one plant once won’t change the world.
I also think the bright lights of Otago University and a strong interest in health sciences will run too strongly in my daughter for her to step into “our world” but maybe, just maybe, she will discuss this with her friends, her teachers, her careers advisors and this might just start a change – a change in the perception (invisibility?) of our industry.
It’s going to be awfully lonely if we don’t.
I’d like to give a big thanks to the operators (Donald, Bridget and Bruce) who set time aside to host us , my daughter who at 16 allowed her dad to get her up early and consume a day of her holidays to visit a water plant and the Waitaki District Council for allowing us to visit.
I’d urge anyone with the opportunity to make the effort to encourage the members of your community to understand “our world”.
Water does not just fall out of the taps, flushing the toilet isn’t the “final step” in the conversion of food to energy in our bodies and there are real opportunities for talented people to join us and make sure the society we will have is the one we want.
Linking your operators to your community might be a very useful first step in ensuring we can at least have a fighting chance when facing the impending skill shortage.