We have to portray construction as a place of opportunity for a wide range of skills
The construction industrial strategy sets out a vision for 2025 with five clear areas: people, smart (advanced technology), sustainability, growth and leadership. People are at the heart of the vision for the strategy as there is a growing understanding that we need to encourage a diverse workforce into construction. From school leavers who are looking to gain skills and qualifications through onsite training to top graduates.
Construction is not regarded as a top industry, unlike law, medicine or high tech industries. There are certain disciplines such as architecture and engineering which do encourage top graduates but we need to see a more diverse and skilled workforce at all levels.
There is a need to do more to create a greater understanding of the different elements in the industry, as at present the main interaction with the general public is through housebuilders, plumbers, electricians and so on. More could be done to promote the diverse roles that are available and the potential opportunities of the low carbon agenda, digital construction and smart cities. This should encourage a range of people, including more women, into the workforce.
Construction is not regarded as a top industry, unlike law, medicine or high tech industries
The construction industry is fairly unique in that there are different routes in that can appeal to a wide range of young people with different skill sets. Encouraging young people to gain skills and training as they leave school will appeal to people who don’t wish to go to university. It will offer them other opportunities of gaining skills and earning a livelihood.
As a graduate, I was unaware of the diversity of roles and opportunities that are available in the industry. I had studied geography, focusing on the built environment, but had little appreciation of the construction industry and the opportunities until I undertook my masters in urban design. There was little clarity on what roles were available and how to get into them. Little wonder, then, that few of my friends from my undergraduate course chose a career in construction – most went on to work in the City instead.
There is a real need for us to portray our industry as one that creates the places that we live, work and interact in. To demonstrate that through a career in construction there is an opportunity to influence the built environment. So there needs to be more clarity on the potential of roles available for a career in construction.
To have an impact we must start now to encourage school children to look into and think about the opportunities that a career in construction can offer.
Louise Clarke chairs the 2025 Group and sits on the Construction Industry Leadership Council