UK construction has suffered skills shortages for a number of years. Currently the industry will need to find 157,000 new recruits by 2021 to keep up with demand.
Despite a career in construction being financially rewarding and an exciting choice it is still viewed by too many as a fall back decision. The poor public image of the industry is having a well-documented negative impact on recruiting the next wave of talent.
There are a number of organisations in the sector that are tackling this problem, and which the CIOB supports, but where we focus our efforts is on the 14 – 19 age group. Those making career choices.
We regularly talk to the Department for Education (DfE) as they consult with us on their plans for technical education. Our objective is to help develop new qualifications that are respected by employers and that enable students to make informed career choices and importantly will improve their employability.
We are strong advocates for being creative in how we engage the next generation. Over the years we have used Minecraft in competitions to attract young people. Posing them challenges like how they would design future housing for a growing population in a shrinking landscape.
In 2016 we launched construction’s first lessons in Minecraft aimed at 12-14 year olds. ‘Craft Your Future’ works on any version of Minecraft and offers 16 hours of teaching material. Students develop, maths, planning, teamwork and communication skills. Through the learning we introduce construction themes in a fully immersive, exciting and engaging environment. Schools in the UK and overseas are using these lessons, and they work equally well for construction employers who get involved in schools to showcase what a career in construction is like.
For more than a decade we have offered students the chance to learn new skills and to win mentoring from industry leaders. Our Global Student Challenge is open to students based anywhere in the world on a built environment Bachelor’s degree level course. In teams the students manage their own virtual construction company, testing their strategic, marketing and financial skills to the limit. Those who reach the final are taken on an all-expenses paid trip to Hong Kong to go head-to-head against five other teams.
In collaboration with My Kinda Future we are posing students in more than 4,000 UK schools and colleges construction challenges. Engaging pupils in how construction projects work and the impact they have in society is a key part of our initiative. Teams that come up with the best solutions get the opportunity to shadow industry professionals to give them a taste of what their next step into construction might offer.
This year we are launching a resource pack to support CIOB members who want to encourage young people to consider the construction sector as a first choice career destination. The pack has been inspired by enquiries and feedback from members looking for resources to help them in their schools outreach work. The content has been shaped by research carried out with young people to understand their perceptions of the industry as well as input from teachers and industry advisers.