A 2015/16 survey of 2,000 British adults found that 67% would not consider working in construction.
Poor perceptions can partly be blamed on construction’s long-running image problem. Reasons putting many off the sector include poor image, low pay, job security and lack of profession and can all be found in The Construction 2025 report (2013) and the Construction 2030 and Beyond report (2015).
Teachers and parents may pass on negative views of the industry to children, with 35% of careers advisors saying a career in construction is unattractive and four in ten parents stating they would not encourage their children to join the industry.
Efforts to attract the next generation should focus on recasting construction in a positive light; not only is it a professional industry with varied job opportunities for talented individuals, but construction helps shape communities and improve people’s lives. The use of innovative technologies and the rise of BIM are key ways to attract the interest of young people who have grown up in a digital world.
Changing perceptions of construction is half the battle but adequate training provision needs to be in place to support young people who choose to enter the industry. Comprehensive training programmes provide structured career progression, demonstrating that construction is a professional industry and, in turn, attracts more young people into construction.
However, efforts and schemes are being put into place to change the perception of the industry.
The Considerate Constructors Scheme is an initiative which aims to improve the image of construction and registered sites.
The Scheme surveyed nearly 800 industry professionals to discover opinions surrounding the reputation of the construction industry. Findings from the researched showed:
- 85% would recommend construction careers to young people.
- 84% cited the perception of construction being manual work as the main reason it is not a popular career choice.
- 77% said the skills shortage is the most pressing issue facing the construction industry.
- 72% cited the challenging nature of work as the main benefit of a construction career.
- 69% said the industry is not doing enough to attract the next generation of workers.
- 53% know young people who are, or could be, interested in a construction career.
- On the subject of what the industry can do to attract the next generation, 37% mentioned changing perceptions/promoting benefits, 26% suggested engaging schools and colleges and 15% mentioned apprenticeships and training.
Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Edward Hardy said: “The shortage of new entrants in to the workforce is one of the most pressing issues facing the construction industry. With over 400,000 new recruits needed each year to deliver construction projects we must all take steps to attract the next generation.
“While we do have a great industry, one that is working hard to improve its image – as evidenced by the fact that 85% of those within the industry would recommend a career in construction – we need to do so much more to continually improve our standards in order to drive the perception change much needed to make the industry more attractive.
“The Scheme’s Best Practice Hub is at the epicentre of helping to share best practice across construction. Through the ‘Spotlight on… the next generation’ campaign, we are delighted to use our reach and influence across the entire industry to help provide key resources to address this critical issue.”