If the construction industry is going to survive and thrive, it’s vital that younger generations start looking for construction-based careers. Here are some of the ways that the industry can get proactive in construction recruitment to attract young people and secure the future health of construction in the UK.
Factors Affecting Recruitment
Like any other business, the construction industry needs to attract and retain the very best talent. As the construction workforce ages, the problems of recruiting into the industry are thrown into sharp relief. Britain is in danger of losing an entire generation of knowledge as young people fail to enter the industry.
Some factors are beyond the industry’s control. Uncertainty about the economic picture in the light of Brexit and poor quality and productivity have all impacted negatively on construction recruitment. So how can construction begin to tackle the issue?
The solution may start at an early age. By changing the perception of the construction industry through education, it can begin to interest young people in the sheer variety and diversity of available careers.
Want to design an iconic building or manage the logistics of a premium retail project? Interested in electrical installations or becoming a materials buyer? Construction is no longer about labouring and bricklaying, and the industry needs to do more to project its modern image.
So what can the construction industry do to attract new talent? Apprenticeships are the obvious gateway for a young person wanting to move into construction, but uptake is low compared to STEM careers. In fact, the emphasis on science, technology, engineering and maths may be funnelling away candidates who might otherwise consider the construction industry.
Perhaps the various sectors of the industry need to take a leaf out of STEM’s book to really sell the advantages of the myriad careers available in construction. However, there remains the issue of 20- to 30-year-olds entering management positions without the knowledge bank that older peers can provide. Construction needs to do more to ensure that younger generations come through to support their peers by talking about the incredible opportunities available from entry level to management in a wide range of fields.
Recruiting in the Construction Sector
The unique challenges and opportunities of the sector make it interesting for construction recruitment agencies. Skills shortages are likely to lead to short-term competition for available talent. However, this may foster an unsustainable bubble where age and experience are at a huge premium, further disincentivizing young people coming into the industry.
Those that make it through find that their skills and talent will be at a premium, but the model is unsustainable. Construction recruitment agencies will struggle to find young project managers, masons or photovoltaic engineers to fill the available jobs in a sector that has grown 25% in the last five years.
With over 90 career opportunities listed by the National Careers Service, it’s clear that there are some exciting paths into construction for those that choose to take them. Only time will tell whether construction recruitment is attracting the young people it needs to plug the skills and knowledge gaps.