Skills shortage: Unis struggle to recruit to degrees in construction

27 January 2015

Despite the recovering jobs market, and the industry’s concerted drive to encourage young people to embark on careers in construction, UCAS’s latest figures reveal that the number of students embarking on full-time building degrees has barely increased since last year's low point.

The data, compiled by the University admissions body, shows that 2,550 people were accepted onto full-time undergraduate courses in the “K2” building degrees category in 2014, a slight increase of 40 on the 2013 figure of 2510.

Category K2 includes degrees in Building Surveying, Quantity Surveying, Building Technology, Building, Construction Management and Conservation of Buildings.

Although 2014 was the first year not to have seen a decrease in the numbers entering the building degrees since 2008, the figure is still a long way short of pre-crash levels. In 2008 there were close to double the number of students starting building degrees, with 4,370 enrolling.

University admissions for architecture and building degrees 2009-14

Source: UCAS

However, the number of women accepted onto courses has increased from 345 to 390, now representing 18% of the 2014 intake. This comes after several years when the proportion of female students on K2 degree courses was around 16%.

But the absolute number is still far lower than the 635 women accepted onto building degrees in 2008.

Meanwhile, the trends in category K1 – architecture, architectural technology and interior architecture – show the continued popularity of these courses. There were 4,220 acceptances in 2014, compared to 4,265 in 2013 and 4,235 in 2008.

Again, there is an increased proportion of women starting K1 degrees: they accounted for 40% in 2008, and 46% in 2014.

In category K2, there was also a shift towards younger people starting degrees (straight after A-levels or Scottish Highers), with the number of 18-year-olds and under accepted rising from 800 in 2013 to 935 in 2014.

Meanwhile, the number of “mature” students with work and life experience aged 21 and over who were accepted on building degrees over the same period decreased from 920 to 835.

The UCAS figures come as the CITB released the findings of its annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report, which predicts that more than 200,000 workers will be needed to meet industry demand over the next five years.

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