9th March 2018

Changing perceptions of careers in construction

The challenge of attracting a new generation of talent into the industry is sadly a topic all too familiar for the construction industry. Latest UK statistics suggest the sector will have a gap in its workforce at over 150,000 people by 2022, so there are opportunities. Part of the problem is the prevalent misconception in schools, universities and in society at large about what the industry does and therefore what a career in construction can offer.

Reputation and profile are the currencies that matters most for those choosing a career. Damaging headline stories have implications far further than a single project or company and only aid preconceived stereotypes.  So as an industry we have to worker harder than ever to promote the best of the industry and lift the lid on the future we offer, which is why campaigns like National Careers Week are so important.

Over the last few days we have shared key facts and figures and amplified what it means to become a built environment professional. CIOB President Rebecca Thompson launched her blog, with a unique construction tube map, to reflect just a sample of the skills and backgrounds that can lead into our industry.  We continued the week with discussions about apprenticeships and education to highlight the many routes into a career for people from all types of backgrounds. Construction is proven to score well for social mobility. A recent CIOB member survey revealed that respondents had more than 10 years’ experience in the industry, and so a career in construction can be stable and a long term commitment too.

Shifting public perception of the industry has to include improving its visibility. As Alex Stephens said in his Q&A this week, we need to get people 'hooked like we are' on this career path and it’s been interesting to see the quotes from our members about what’s brought them to construction and why they’ve stayed.

Our Think Construction toolkit provides guides and resources for giving careers advice that can be used by teachers, companies and professionals who want to promote what the industry can offer. There are other initiatives out there too like Go Construct which needs more ‘construction ambassadors’ as part of their programme to reach out to schools. Simple concepts like Open Doors show the public what a construction site looks like are very effective, but also need more of the industry to take part.

Next week is International Construction Management Day and British Science Week.  There is a lot of talk about digital technologies like Building Information Modelling in construction, but we all know there is far more ‘science’ in construction than most people could imagine. We will be sharing eye catching innovations throughout the week to raise the visibility on the science being developed within the industry.

Each year our Construction Manager of the Year Awards highlight the impact construction professionals have on society.  That never fails to inspire us – if only we could bottle it to inspire everyone else.