Schools and colleges told us that they need more notice so we are starting the countdown to Open Doors 2023 now, says Build UK chief executive Suzannah Nichol

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Those of us working in construction are well aware of the huge variety of roles and great opportunities that the industry has to offer. As a sector, we represent close to 10% of GDP and employ around 3.1 million people in the UK.

However, we are also well aware that we have a skills gap – one that has grown in recent years. The industry needs to recruit more than 43,000 new entrants every year for the next five years – quite a challenge!

Suzannah Nichol 2020

There are currently around 40,000 young people on a construction-related further education course, yet only 25% of them will go on to find a job in our industry. That is simply not right.

Build UK has identified that the journey from education to employment in our sector is complex and confusing, and we have to make it easier for people to understand what we offer and how they can find their way into a job. It is the only way we are going to secure the talent the sector needs.

We have to make it easier for people to understand what we offer and how they can find their way into a job

Open Doors is a key part of that journey and Build UK has already started gearing up to deliver the next Open Doors week from Monday 13 until Saturday 18 March 2023, with our partners CITB, the Considerate Constructors Scheme and HS2, as well as our returning media partner Building Magazine.

Inspiring the next generation

The first step is to inspire potential recruits to look beyond the site gates and see their future in construction. To do that, we have to show off the diverse and exciting range of careers available and share our passion of creating the built environment.

Many young people don’t know what they want to do when they leave school, so we have a fantastic opportunity to capture their imagination and show them just what they can achieve – whether they are considering college, a traineeship, an apprenticeship, or university.

Open Doors also encourages career changers and members of the public to experience a “live” construction project in their local community. We all know the impact this can have and the powerful first impression it can make.

Together we can showcase the positive impact of construction, along with the diverse range of people and occupations that combine to bring a project to life

Reading a job description on a website is one thing, but there is nothing like seeing a busy construction site in action or a new building close to completion.

One of the unique strengths of Open Doors is the variety of projects on offer, from major infrastructure to high-rise buildings, historic restorations to community hospitals and schools. There is something for everyone and together we can showcase the positive impact of construction, along with the diverse range of people and occupations that combine to bring a project to life.

We know from the feedback we have received that Open Doors visitors of all ages begin to imagine where they might fit in – and that is something we love to encourage!

In 2021, 96% of visitors rated their experience as “excellent” or “good”, with three out of four saying they were more likely to consider a career in construction following their visit.

So, what’s next?

To help everyone prepare, we have started the Countdown to Open Doors 2023 in plenty of time. Schools and colleges told us that they needed more notice, so this time registration for sites will open much earlier – in October 2022, ready for booking for visitors going live in January 2023.

So now it’s over to you!

Which of your projects, offices, factories, or facilities will you be opening up? Which local schools, colleges and universities might you invite to visit? What else can you do to engage the local community?

A visit during Open Doors week is only the beginning. Industry initiatives including Go Construct and Talentview Construction provide access to careers information, work experience and job opportunities for new entrants to support those inspired by their initial visit. So let’s all help them to take that first step on their journey from education to employment, by opening our doors and showing them just what a great career we have to offer.

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Every Person Counts

Building’s Every Person Counts Campaign aims to provide a place where debates about skills, employment and workplace culture can play out and solutions can be shared.

We know the construction industry has no shortage of suggestions for tackling the skills crisis. From reforming apprenticeships, to offering more flexibility, to increasing diversity, to supporting wellbeing and mental health, to providing better pathways from education to the workplace. We will be picking up on all these themes in more depth in future articles. 

If you have an employment initiative you want to tell us about, email us at with the subject line “Every Person Counts”. You can also contact us via Twitter @BuildingNews and LinkedIn @BuildingMagazine, please use the hashtag #everypersoncounts. We look forward to hearing your employment stories.

And if you think your organisation has a particular strong record in this area find out how to enter the Buidling Awards Every Person Counts - The People Strategy Award

 Suzannah Nichol is chief executive of Build UK