Most Young People See Construction as an Attractive Career

A SURVEY OF UK SCHOOL LEAVERS and young adults reveals that over half (56%) consider construction as an ‘attractive’ career, according to research from construction data platform NBS.

The news comes after ONS statistics that show construction job vacancies are widespread, despite the slowing economy, with 49,000 unfilled positions.

Construction has long suffered from a lack of diversity: an ageing workforce that is no longer being revitalised by an uptick of young recruits.

Attractive Career

The demand for construction jobs is expected to accelerate – it is estimated that 217,000 new workers will be needed by 2025 to meet demand. This will be made worse by around 500,000 UK-born workers likely to exit the industry in the next 10 years as they approach retirement.

However, NBS’ UK survey of 2,000 18-29-year-olds points to a big shift in perceptions – with a third of participants eager to ‘create a better world’ as part of the UK’s construction industry.

National Apprenticeship Week 2023

It’s why initiatives that encourage young people to consider a career in construction, such as National Apprenticeship Week 2023, which kicked off on February 6th, are so crucial for the industry’s long-term survival.

As universities call for another rise in tuition fees, a third of respondents also believe that construction offers ‘a lot of non-university routes into a well-paying career’.

Interestingly, only a quarter (28%) of young people are aware of the technology now associated with the sector, including AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), and drone piloting, highlighting a lack of awareness around digital roles. Awareness is also low about positions that focus on sustainability, tackling issues such as climate change.

Little Information

The research also found that over a third (35%) of young people want to join the industry as they see it as a sector ‘going through massive change’. However, despite these trends, inadequacies in construction careers advice provision are hampering uptake. 34% of young people said that ‘none or very little information’ was given to them about starting a career in construction when they were last in education.

In response, NBS is calling for industry cooperation to create substantial inward investment in the future generation of construction professionals, through face-to-face workshops with sixth-form pupils on the verge of picking a career path.

As part of its commitment to investing in the next generation of talent, NBS offers three placement spots to PlanBEE students in the North East every year, some of whom go on to join NBS after the apprenticeship programme completes.

Success Story

Lana Whittaker, a Digital Object Creator at NBS, is one such success story. Having completed a placement at NBS while pursuing an Architectural Engineering & Management apprenticeship, she joined the company full-time in 2019.

Reflecting on her experiences, Lana says “I’d never really considered an apprenticeship as a potential route into a career – I definitely think there was an element of stigma around it when I was in sixth form, as something very male-dominated and involving a lot of manual labour. In fact, I was all set to take up a place at university to study Geography, until I realised that what I was really interested in was construction and the built environment!

“The hybrid approach of study combined with placements across a variety of construction firms and sector roles worked for me, as I was able to apply what I was learning to real-world scenarios. The hands-on approach really cements that knowledge, and working in a professional environment from such a young age builds skills that you can’t get in the classroom.

“I’m a passionate advocate for apprenticeship and degree apprenticeship routes, and I now volunteer as a student mentor at sixth-form colleges in the North East.”

Russell Haworth, CEO of NBS and UK CEO of Byggfakta Group UK

Russell Haworth, CEO of NBS and UK CEO of Byggfakta Group UK, says “This is a significant opportunity for the construction sector to solve its talent shortage. There’s an open and untapped talent pool available with hundreds of thousands of young people open to construction as a career.

“The sector has come a long way and it’s clear that it’s shaking off its reputation as dull, dangerous, and dirty – instead being seen as diverse, tech-forward, and potentially lucrative.

“We also need to be loud and proud on the continued digitisation of the sector. Digital adoption is no longer a buzzword, it’s here and it’s happening, and for ambitious young minds, it represents a doorway to a varied and skilled career path.”


>> Read more about apprenticeships in the news

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