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Changing perceptions of the construction industry

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With some still holding onto false and harmful perceptions about the industry, it’s clear that the Trade needs to start showing its true face so that our future workforce can get the right information and make the best choices for the industry.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) in 2017 found that the overall attractiveness score of the construction industry to young people was rising by an average of 1.1 points year on year. Despite this, the 2022 skills gap in construction is, unfortunately, more prevalent than ever.

With some still holding onto false preconceptions about the industry, it’s clear that the Trade needs to start showing its true face so that our future workforce can get the right information and make the best choices for the industry.

But how do we do that, exactly? Let’s start by addressing the existing perceptions that some people might have about the construction industry…

What perceptions are there?

Any child who grew up within the last 20 years with a television set knew about Bob The Builder. But they never found out about Maxine the mechanic, or Quentin the quantity surveyor. The beauty of the construction industry is that so many different kinds of people have the opportunity to thrive in a multitude of different career paths, but this isn’t currently widely publicised.

On top of this, CITB found in 2016 that 72% of young people didn’t think that a career in construction would pay well. When, in fact, working in construction can bring in the big bucks for many. As Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, Brian Berry, said in 2018:

“Money talks and when it comes to annual salaries, a career in construction trumps many university graduate roles.” 

Why should we change them?

It almost goes without saying that showing the true face of the construction industry will help us to attract new talent. If more young people, in particular, knew about the variety of trades and skills on offer in the construction industry, then we could slow down or reverse the skills gap.

Changing perceptions of the construction industry could even increase our value in the eyes of the government and other industry bodies. The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) argues in their 2020 report, The Real Face of Construction, that by including all aspects of the design and construction process in the ONS’ definition of the construction industry, construction GDP could be close to double in size.

How do we change perceptions of the construction industry?

While the perceptions of the construction industry held by clients, customers, and other members of the public undoubtedly matter, addressing these issues at school level is really where it will count. The CIOB highlights campaigns like National Careers Week as vital opportunities to promote the best of the industry to the youth of today and reveal the future that we offer.

In addition, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) encourages any construction company to adopt the innovations of the Transforming Construction Challenge (TCC), which, for four years, has been uniting the construction industry and government bodies to pilot a range of innovations that will revolutionise the construction industry, including platform systems, manufacturing methods, robotic technology, digital and data-driven processes and active energy solutions.

Encouraging more women to join the construction industry workforce will not only help to change perceptions of the industry but will also help to plug the skills gap. Read about it in our report.
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