10th March Journal Column

 By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

New research has revealed that half of school age children have never been given any information on possible jobs in construction by their teachers or careers advisers.

House builders, Redrow surveyed 2,000 parents and school age children and 147 of its own apprentices and the results are quite shocking.  Half of young people answered ‘no’ when asked if information on careers in construction had ever been discussed with them by a teacher or had been made readily available in careers literature. I am 100 per cent behind encouraging new workers into the industry, particularly students and young people. I believe that the youth of today hold the future of our industry in their hands, so why aren’t we showing them just how amazing construction can be?

More than half of young people questioned believe that a career in construction mostly involves manual labour and one in five of young people believe a career in construction does not require any qualifications beyond GCSEs, proving that enough isn’t being done to educate children on the industry. The problem seems to lie with education, not just in skills and training like you would expect, but more in simply educating people on what the industry can offer them. As an industry, we need to get better at communicating the jobs available, informing parents/school career advisors and pupils that there are many professions within the industry, it’s not just hard hats and muddy boots.

We’ve all been celebrating National Apprenticeship Week this week, with campaigns up and down the country dedicated to supporting apprenticeships, so it’s a shame to hear that nearly a third of the young people asked said that they hadn’t received information at school on apprenticeships. The industry as a whole must get more young people interested and bring in more apprentices to help with the skills shortage that we’re dealing with. We now have the skills and resources to train and educate, and those who have gone through apprenticeships are some of the smartest people I know.

Only 30 per cent of young men said a career in construction was a possibility for them and even more shockingly, only 16 per cent of young women said the same, which is a shame when they haven’t been given all the facts to make an informed decision. The image people have in their head is not a true representation of how the industry is today. We’ve come a long way in terms of technology and skills, and the general public just aren’t aware of the reality of construction today. If we give them a true representation of what they can expect, and what the industry is like, then we’ve done all we can and it’s down to them to decide if construction is right for them.