Transport for the North

The Young Generation

Recently Harry Paige went into Sheffield Hallam to give a talk on the challenge set by Transport for the North followed by an hour’s think tank on their thoughts. As part of the leaders challenge with Turner & Townsend. Students with ranging degrees, mostly from the built environment, openly discussed their opinions and what they would want to see change. From the evening the key points are as follows.

Many students believed that not enough was being done in order to keep a hold of talent from northern universities, and even less is being done to encourage people into the construction industry – especially women! A recurring theme was that these students wanted to work on innovative, interesting and world leading projects, they all have the drive and motivation to help and improve the built environment, but felt that most of these opportunities did not lie in the North. This is an area I think TFN can change, by creating new “world leading” projects in the north it would keep and bring in more and more talent. Another area which the students felt strongly about was that they felt at a disadvantage to those in the south as they have not been as well educated and thus would be given less opportunities to go into professional careers. They also indicated that careers in construction had never been made aware to them in school, they knew that you could be an architect but were unaware of the full range and diversity of the careers out there.

Key Change areas

On reflection of the informative evening, 6 main key areas were identified, that would help keep and increase the young talent to the north.

  • Provide the generation with a purpose, so that they understand how they’re making a difference.
  • Having a common goal (to put the northern powerhouse on the map) would drive us to help improve where we live.
  • Provide a range in opportunities for all levels that show clear direction and growth for the individual.
  • If the northern power house begins to invest in ground-breaking projects then this would attract and excite talent.
  • Increased transport links so that students can access the different cities easily and efficiently
  • By using the media to start changing the stigma of the North and the construction industry
  • More publication of professional careers in the industry so that future talent is captured early on.
Quality of life
  • Provide better amenities to attract more people to stay in the north.
  • Work life balance is essential and if there is no “life” in northern areas for the younger generation then subsequently we will lose the talent we have.
  • Educate from an early age, so that we can start behavioural changes across the north.
  • Make school pupils aware of the vast opportunities in the construction industry.
  • Get the young professionals to help, by going into schools and Universities to show them the opportunities that are in the industry.


The young generation that live in our Norther Cities are vital to the success of the Northern Power House, but with more and more leaving to go elsewhere, it is evident that things must be done to change their views. They want a voice so that they can be heard and bring new ideas to the table and work towards a common goal. With an increase in investment into new infrastructure and construction would be the boost needed to encourage more and more into the industry in the north. As it would provide new and exciting opportunities that would excite the younger generation to get involved in. This would have a knock on effect to the generations still in early education, if we can start changing the image of the industry using the young generation, we can hopefully bring more talent into the industry.

Harry Paige, Trainee Cost Manager – Turner & Townsend