Whilst the construction industry continues to struggle with the skills gap, Redrow’s latest survey into the availability of careers information has shone a light on what schools aren’t telling pupils. It’s time to change the conversation – for everyone’s sake.
The recent survey by housebuilder Redrow has made for interesting reading, further highlighting a well-publicised issue within the construction industry.
The survey makes clear that, when it comes to attracting more young people to roles within the industry, the efforts of construction companies aren’t being matched by schools. Alarmingly, 50% of the 2147 individuals surveyed answered that ‘no’, information on construction careers hadn’t been discussed with them verbally by a teacher, and it wasn’t available in careers literature.
Why This is an Important Revelation
Millennials are the key to construction’s skills shortage – we need to engage them. Neil Martin, Lendlease via The Guardian
Without bringing attention to the wide variety of roles and skills on offer within construction, educational establishments are contributing to the widening skills gap, rather than working to close it.
A lack of education also leads to continued ignorance around the industry. 55% of those surveyed thought a career in construction would mainly involve manual labour, whilst 19% believed that no other qualifications beyond GCSEs were required.
Denying young people information on a career in any industry is doing them a disservice by limiting their options, but the construction industry in particular, needs new talent and skills. So how can we change the conversation around careers and get young people talking about a future role in construction?
Collaborating on Careers
Reiterating the quality and value of a career in construction will make a lasting impression on future generations. Of course, it begins with schools. How we intend to make construction appealing is completely dependent on our approach at the earliest stages of a person’s development. Stuart Cavanagh, Novus Property Solutions via Skill-Builder.uk
Considering Redrow’s findings, the industry must be the ones to drive this. Following 2016’s Farmer Review calling for better collaboration within the industry, we’ve witnessed firms working with other firms, schools and colleges to change outside perceptions and give young people more to talk about when it comes to construction careers. Three campaigns stand out as prime examples.
Industry stalwart Balfour Beatty has been making a considerable amount of noise around possible construction careers using live streaming technology. Their interactive broadcast last September – in partnership with Scape Group and Learn Live UK – reached over 3000 students between 11 and 18 in 30 schools across the UK, and now the group has plans to take the programme further. The result is more information given directly to pupils from professionals, reducing the pressure on teachers.
Meanwhile, Build UK and CITB successfully hosted a school engagement programme workshop earlier this month, which primarily addressed the requirements around development of a portal. The finished portal will promote career programmes to schools and colleges across the UK, and will act to resolve the disconnect between the industry and schools, enabling better collaboration to take place long-term.
Finally, The Considerate Constructors Scheme has teamed with CITB to create the Go Construct campaign, aimed at children aged 8-14. Using colourful illustrations and the familiar mascots Ivor and Honor Goodsite, the campaign aims to encourage younger generations to think about future careers in construction early on in their development. The latest addition to the campaign – introduced at the end of 2016 – is a poster inviting viewers to ‘Spot the Job’. The poster depicts a construction site, filled with individuals undertaking different tasks and roles, demonstrating a shift away from the image of simply laying bricks and operating heavy machinery.
What Needs to Happen Next?
In 2014, it was estimated that by 2018, the construction industry would need to fill 182,000 roles. With that prediction looming over us, the pressure is on in 2017 to start and nurture more conversations around construction careers. That comes down to firms, employers, schools, colleges and universities working together to offer more opportunities, insights and choices to young people.
In May 2017, we’ll be holding our next Construction Roundtable, with a focus on Smart Cities. We’ll be inviting not only industry professionals but also those in education studying smart cities, who can meet with our professionals and be part of the ongoing discussion. If the roundtable event is something of interest to you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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