The growing appeal of a career in construction

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has reported that more young people are interested in pursuing a career in the construction industry than ever before. Based on a survey of 1,000 young people, 500 parents and 800 careers guidance professionals, the “Changing Perceptions: the growing appeal of a career in construction report” is said to show that there has been a shift in the way the construction industry is viewed.

From the group surveyed, one in four young people scored the sector top marks in attractiveness – a figure which is said to have doubled from 13% in 2016 and a big increase from 3% in 2015.

CITB says that the statistics show that young people’s knowledge of the industry has increased and they have a greater awareness of the breadth of roles in the sector. They are also more likely to see a construction career as well paid and an increasing number agree that the sector offers as many jobs for women as men. To add to this, both construction and civil engineering were placed in the top 10 (seventh and eighth, respectively) from a list of 29 potential career paths which young people were asked to consider.

Steve Radley, director of policy at CITB, said: “For a sector with a high skills demand that has long suffered an image problem, this is an important step in the right direction.”

Steve puts the improvement down to joint industry-led programmes like Open Doors, Go Construct, Inspiring Construction and the work of construction ambassadors, but also cites the Government’s apprenticeship programme, national infrastructure plan and projects such as Crossrail which have helped raise the profile of construction.

“This report shows that perceptions of construction careers are improving. With modern methods of construction emerging fast, the time is right for industry to work together to start bringing new people into the sector.

“Getting people interested in construction careers is vital. Employers of different sizes and specialisms are all saying that they need more talented people coming into the sector. The sector’s ageing demographic and the potential impact of Brexit on available labour only adds to these pressures.

“In this context, it’s clear we need to harness the optimism our survey captured. We have to keep reaching out to those unfamiliar with the sector, unconvinced and in particular those currently under-represented. CITB and industry together must showcase construction careers when and where possible, if we are to meet those future skills needs.”

The report also laid bare some of the challenges that may hinder recruitment into construction. These include:

  • Only 45% of advisers declared themselves confident in providing careers advice on construction.
  • Careers guidance professionals were more likely to give construction careers advice to those with lower qualifications than graduates and those with at least 4 A-levels – a consistent trend since 2014.
  • Two out of five (41%) school students were told by guidance professionals that a degree would be more beneficial in the long term than other qualification. Among 18-year-olds, more than half (51%) were advised that a degree offered better prospects.
  • Two thirds (67%) of male respondents said they would consider a construction career compared to only a third (34%) of females.
  • Safety concerns still feature highly for young people – 46% of young people saw this as a concern.