Schools failing to promote construction

6 March 2017

Half of school-age children have never been given proper information about a possible career in construction by their teachers or counsellors, a new survey has found.

House builder Redrow surveyed 2,000 parents and school-age children and 147 of its own apprentices ahead of National Apprenticeship Week and found that 50% of young people questioned answered “no” when asked if information on careers in construction had ever been discussed with them verbally by a teacher or had been made readily available in careers literature.

Young men were also more likely to have been given advice on a career in construction, with 40% having received this, while 29% of young women had received this advice in comparison.

The survey also found more than half of young people had never given a career in construction any consideration and that the industry continued to fight an image problem, with more than half (55%) stating that “a career in construction mostly involves manual labour.”

Nearly one in five, (19%) of young people also believe a career in construction does not require any qualifications beyond GCSEs.

According to Redrow this lack of knowledge and poor communication is a key contributor to the skills crisis which threatens to throw the house building and construction industry into decline, particularly with Brexit looming and potential labour shortages. 

Redrow recommends that the industry needs to better communicate a number of aspects of construction careers including the range of jobs available and the extent of the benefits on offer.

It calls on industry role models to be made more visible and the comparative, significant costs of university attendance should be better publicised.

Parents provide crucial guidance to children and house builders should also be reaching out to them more effectively, to convey the benefits of apprenticeships and the many doors these can open.

Karen Jones, HR director at Redrow, said: “Our research highlights the inadequacy of the careers provision in schools in relation to construction and apprenticeships.

“The skills gap is not something construction companies and house builders can solve independently. Collaboration and a fresh mentality of ‘sharing what works’ is key to overcoming the skills barrier.

“As an industry we must get better at shouting about the benefits of both the apprenticeship route and careers in construction. We must also think outside the box: parents are so crucial to shaping their child’s future and we should be reaching out to them and encouraging them to see the range of fulfilling careers available.”


I agree with this article totally. I have in the past few years offered to go into both a school and an Academy to talk about opportunities in construction neither of which has been taken up by the head teachers. I have been involved with construction for the past 56 years as a QS and Contract Administrator and sitting as a Arbitrator and acting as an expert witness.
I would be delighted to encourage youngsters to the construction industry as professionals as well as tradesmen given the chance.

L.G.Simms, 6 March 2017

As stated previously, I totally agree with the results of these findings. I teach construction from BTEC to Degree level and find that students have no real perception of the employment opportunities that are available. I too would like to see recognised bodies of the Construction Industry support myself and others who are committed to 'opening eyes', of these learners. As the parent of a teenager who has just made the transition from Secondary to Further Education, I can confirm that there was zero input from any careers adviser regarding available opportunities within the Construction Industry. I am interested to find out the opinions of others as this subject is the basis of my Masters thesis.

Tracey Lawton, 7 March 2017

I think the main point is been over looked here. Which is pay scales and continuous employment in the industry is missing. You will struggle to find a trades person directly employed on the books for long periods of time in the UK. I have stated previously it is famine and feast for construction trades. Why would a school leaver want to experience that? or continuous job chasing with employment agencies. I would advise any school leaver to look elsewhere such as engineering. Stay well clear of the construction industry until the employment pay levels and prospects improve.

John Johnson, 7 March 2017

John, it isn't much different for many professionals, despite what may seem like high headline rates that recruitment agencies like to boast.

Unless you are a Partner or Senior Associate in a large firm, you can kiss goodbye to earning stellar amounts of money. Not so much a problem if work were guaranteed year after year; but it isn't, and in the downturns you'll be either out on the street, driving a taxi, or facing a serious cut in earnings.

As an architect I worked with said of her accountant husband's view of architecture, "it's fine for a hobby, but you can't make a living out of it" (and she was made redundant a short while later).

I know quite a few engineers in the same situation.

Charles, 8 March 2017

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