Recruiting Generation Z

Recruiting Generation Z
Recruiting Generation Z

Attracting a New Generation of Equipment Operators

One of the big questions in construction today is how to attract young people to careers as equipment operators. In this article, Lucas Haddock — a high school student from Stafford, England and an up-and-coming industry content creator — shares his thoughts on how technology and exposure are key to bringing new talent to the construction world.

 A Unique Perspective

Out in the wild, Lucas Haddock looks like a typical 15-year-old English student. He plays rugby, is working through his final year of high school and relaxes with the occasional video game (“Sometimes I do, if it’s a rainy day,” he says).

But start poking around on the internet and you’ll find him credited with helping his dad, Peter Haddock, write and edit construction industry interviews and videos for an online industry forum and informational resource.

Lucas explains, “The focus of the content is on plant machines, innovation, different new releases of machines, new electric machines and hybrid machines, where it can show how the construction industry is getting better and how it’s changing over time.”

His interest in heavy equipment goes way back. “I used to make my nan stop at different construction sites and just watch the diggers for hours and hours on end when I was a little kid,” he recalls. “It’s like second nature to me, to be honest.” Since then, he’s tried his hand at operating several pieces of kit (translated for those across the pond, “kit” means heavy equipment), including dozers, excavators and skid steer loaders.

These days, he not only lends a hand with his dad’s web content, he’s also planning his own entrée as an industry influencer. Lucas plans to post “my own takes on different pieces of kit, going to different training facilities and documenting how you can get your training and how … I wouldn’t say how easy it is to do, but how fast you can do it. What I mainly want to do is show people how you can get into the industry.”

To that end, and as a member of what he describes as the Play Station generation, Lucas offers a unique perspective on what the industry can do to attract young people to the construction game.

Exposure Is The Name of the Game

In a word, he says, it all starts with exposure. “A few of my friends are showing an interest. They all are quite interested on getting on kit. [But] the biggest barriers are that no one is being exposed to it. In my opinion, it’s not highlighted enough in schools. I think the way forward to get people into the industry is to expose them more to operating the pieces of kit, to show them what the pieces of kit do and what you can do with it.”

Lucas adds that industry leaders and business owners could play a proactive role in creating those opportunities for engagement. "They could join in with the schools and show [students] what they can do. They could take them to a training facility and show them what they can be doing and how it would be good for people in my generation.”




"Learning to operate heavy equipment isn't going
to be as difficult as becoming a lawyer, but what
you may earn could be as much as one of them.”

- Lucas Haddock, 15, Stafford England


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Technology Can Help Fast-Track A Career

One of the things students should learn, he adds, is that running today’s heavy equipment isn’t like it was back in the days when he was watching diggers with his grandmother. For example, he points out, modern technology has made the job easier to learn. “With your grade control and [automated] machine control, it doesn’t require so much training to get a good quality output from a machine.”

Along with being able to get in and get up to speed quickly, Lucas says young people need to see that running kit can be lucrative, as well, without the need to incur hefty educational debt.

“A lot of people that I talk to are going into apprenticeships,” Lucas notes. “I’ve got a friend that just finished school and has an apprenticeship that starts [soon]. You can get around the student loans by going through apprenticeships. Plus, it’s not going to be as difficult as becoming a lawyer, but what you may earn could be as much as one of them.”

The advent of long-distance remote control adds another potential carrot, Lucas says. With non-line-of-sight remote control, young operators “can sit in a room, nice and comfortable, and be able to operate a piece of kit. You sit there like you do at home playing on, say, your X-Box or PlayStation. But not many people have seen the likes of Cat Command, where you remote into operating in Arizona or Vegas using a Cat Command station.”

“Again, on the exposure front,” Lucas adds, remote control technology “needs to be promoted on social media. People love to watch stuff on construction, love watching demolition, love watching things explode and scatter down into a million pieces. They don’t see how you can sit in a different room, safely, away from all of the stuff, and become a part of it.”




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Building A Lasting Legacy

As a young man on the cusp of a construction-related career, Lucas says the idea of being part of something lasting offers a lot of appeal. “When you’re in the construction industry, you can drive past something and go ‘I helped create that.’ You see your impacts. It’s not like you’re just out there to make money, you see what you’ve helped change. You can drive past with your kids later on in life and go ‘I helped make that. I built that.'"

Asked what he would say to ultimately convince people of his age check out a career as an equipment operator, he cites the benefits of having a skill that will support a person anywhere they might want to live.

With wisdom beyond his years, Lucas asks, “Do you want to travel the world? Do you want to see new things? In the construction industry, you can go operate pieces of kit wherever you want. You can build yourself up to the point that you’re going overseas — getting paid to live there for longer periods of time, going to different places, experiencing new things — all within one company or one industry, all without worrying about the shortage of a job. Just get your tickets and we’ll see you there.”



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