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Leaders must do more to promote the construction sector as a career

By David Hutt, London – February 2018

With the construction industry under mounting pressure to address the widening skills shortage, it is vitally important that we begin to engage with young people and start to develop their understanding of the industry.

It’s documented that to meet the demands of the current skills shortage in the UK, the construction sector must recruit 1 person every 77 seconds until the year 2021.[1] We therefore need to begin promoting the opportunities available to young people in a creative and inspiring way, whilst changing misinformed perceptions that some may have.

Programmes such as the ‘Global Challenge’, is a great example of how to attract more young people to the sector. The initiative saw one of the JV partners’ team up with educational charity, The Transformation Trust, to deliver a number of workshops to students aged 11 to 14 in secondary schools across the country. The workshops included a curriculum-aligned challenge, where students were asked to plan every aspect of a hypothetical construction theme.

Feedback from the schools highlighted the success of the programme. Many students benefitted enormously from the opportunity to demonstrate their resourcefulness, team work and ability to overcome problems. The fact that the programme focused on a range of different opportunities surrounding the construction sector, has meant that many of the students have registered interested in this area of work as a future career option. Before the workshop took place, only 4/10 students would consider a career in construction. Statistics collected from the schools who took part suggest that 6/10 students now consider a career within the sector.

In total, the Global Challenge programme gave 2,500 young people the chance to be more informed about the breadth of future career roles available in the construction industry – a timely introduction just before the choosing of their GCSE options. It is vital that we promote the industry as more than just bricks and hard hats.

Initiatives like these will go a long way to encourage and inspire the next generation to take up careers in the construction sector. The onus is on industry leaders and companies to do more to ultimately bridge the current skills gap.

[1] https://www.arcadis.com/en/united-kingdom/news/latest-news/2017/02/britain-must-recruit-one-worker-every-77-seconds-to-meet-construction-needs/