What do the under 30’s think of the industry?

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

This week, Building’s survey of the perceptions of young people found that those working and studying in the industry are optimistic about their careers and happy in their work.

For so long we’ve been trying to change young people’s perception of the industry and encourage more people to consider a career in construction, so it’s great to hear that those in the industry enjoy what they’re doing.

The survey asked almost 500 young people about their perceptions of the sector and found more than 90% were happy in their jobs and over two-thirds felt their careers were satisfying, fulfilling and that a career in the industry is full of variety, exciting and enjoyable. Construction is about changing and shaping the world around us for the better – what’s more varied than that?

However, as with most things it wasn’t all positive news. Many felt that pay and working conditions did not favour young people, with 16% saying that low pay and long hours were the biggest things they would improve about construction – which is fair enough. Thankfully, the rise of the gig economy and zero-hour contracts hasn’t impacted their ambition and position within the industry, with 89% aspiring to a senior position and 94% still feeling secure in their job.

As a traditionally male-dominated industry, we’ve been struggling for a while now to improve our image and gender diversity. Gender pay gap reporting practices and a number of schemes have highlighted the problem but also resulted in more companies working to address the imbalance – and this isn’t going unnoticed by the younger generation. Nearly seven in 10 respondents believe construction is actively seeking to increase the number of women entering the industry.

When asked what one thing they would change about the industry, their priorities in order were:

  • Better pay and shorter working hours
  • Gender quality and an end to sexism
  • Construction to take its role in global sustainability and climate change seriously
  • The industry to speed up its modernisation process
  • To be respected, listened to and recognised for the work they do

So, is the industry actually listening to what its new generation want? One respondent said they feel that those with more experience look down on younger people and don’t respect them as much as others. Here at Constructing Excellence in the North East, we certainly respect the younger generation. Generation4Change is our group established to be the voice of the younger generation. Part of the Constructing Excellence movement it comprises of young professionals who are passionate about making a difference in the sector. Each year, we host the G4C North East Awards in celebration of the region’s emerging talent and it’s one of my favourite events of the year. I’m really looking forward to celebrating with them all this Friday.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.