Young people shun 'unexciting' construction careers

8 February 2019

Less than one in ten young people would consider a career in construction, despite the fact that more than half have an interest in subjects that would qualify them for the industry.

That’s the finding of a survey by housing association and developer L&Q, which surveyed 1,095 16-18-year-olds about their career aspirations.

Despite the fact there are 167 different careers in construction and the built environment is the second biggest employer in the country after the NHS, the research found that the industry was perceived as “challenging and unexciting” by students.

Around 50% of the young people said that they were interested in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). But only 9% stated that they would consider a career in housebuilding.

Around half of all construction careers require degrees in a STEM subjects and the Construction Industry Training Board estimates that 230,000 new recruits will be needed by 2020 to support construction growth and account for an ageing workforce.

The news came as L&Q launched its £1m schools programme aimed at increasing the number of young people joining the construction industry by raising awareness of the wide variety of jobs available.

The programme, called Learning to Succeed, will offer free STEM education lessons and careers advice to 30 schools in 12 London boroughs. The programme is being developed and delivered in partnership with Construction Youth Trust, the construction industry’s youth charity.

Schools became obliged to provide weekly careers advice to all pupils in 2018, although no extra funds have been allocated. L&Q claimed it was the first housing association in the country to offer careers advice and assistance of this kind.

The survey also revealed that for the 9% who were interested in construction, the “excitement” of the field was the biggest factor for their interest

Meanwhile, some 40% of young people feared they wouldn’t be good at the job.

Matthew Corbett, director of the L&Q Foundation, said: “Construction isn’t just about hard hats and steel capped boots, it’s also about innovation, technology, great design, communities and placemaking. If we’re going to solve our housing crisis, then we need our young people to help – but first we need to increase interest and awareness of the opportunities the industry has to offer.

“The average age of a tradesman on a site is now 45-years-old. And Brexit is looming. We’ve got a serious amount of work to do in promoting ourselves if we’re ever going to fill the substantial gaps in our skills base and make the industry more appealing to younger people.”

Construction Youth Trust director, Carol Lynch, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with L&Q to develop and deliver the Learning to Succeed programme. It is through the development of programmes like Learning to Succeed that we can challenge the negative misperceptions of the construction industry and inspire young people to choose a career from amongst the amazing breadth of roles available within the sector.” 


L & Q are to be commended for leading the way here and investing 1 million off their own funds into a schools programme.
When I started in construction it was for technical minded people who were good with their hands and didn’t mind a challenge they could put their minds to solve. Now as mentioned in your article.
Around half of all construction careers require degrees in a STEM subjects.I understand this for Engineers and Surveyors. The NVQ system is 75% paperwork Is this not part of the problem as we have turned Construction into an academic subject and in doing so discouraged those who are not academically minded.
Like me and thousands of others who started as a tradesman and studied their chosen craft then decided to start their own business making a success of both as good work ethic installed at young age. Then later in life I studied part time which is an option been a self employed person affords.
When selling Construction to the youth of today truthful it is challenging but rewarding. Their are very few careers that offer what Construction does starting as a Tradesmen/Woman become good and take pride in what you do making a good income on the way. Start your own business as a Carpentry , Tiling , Plumbing or Electrical firm. Options to travel the world using your skills to gain entry into countries were they are needed.
This is the path I choose started at 14 years of age progressed from Carpenter / Joiner to Project Manager with 15 years running my own business. What other profession offers the chance to do this.

Anthony Carroll MCIOB, 11 February 2019

I joined the industry in 1965 and have found construction to be so interesting, challenging, rewarding and financially, a very stable means of having a most enjoyable life.
I technically retired at age 57yrs old, but as an experienced senior manager,I still found lots of opportunities to assess other managers, so that they could obtain NVQ level 6 or 7 qualifications, as experienced, safe and competent members of the qualified construction workforce. The range of construction projects never ceases to amaze me and generates as much job satisfaction now as it did when I joined as a 16yr old.

Austin Hargreaves, 11 February 2019

The Construction, and House building Industry, together with offsite construction, Robotics, and energy efficiency/ carbon reduction programmes affects every individual in this country, and the world. I cannot see that this is boring, on the contrary, we all face the greatest available challenge, and the work is completely satisfying, I am pleased to say that I have inspired many throughout this wide scope Industry to go on to improve life, and communities for everyone. Even at age 67/8 I am still keen to be giving back to all interested parties.
It has stood me well, and I am still interested in influencing politicians and place shapers alike. Thanks for a great career.

les jennison, 11 February 2019

Delighted to read this article as I have long since thought that there has not been enough emphasis on jobs in the construction industry during careers advice in schools. I truly hope that L & Q succeed in promoting interest in the variety of work available to learn and to reassure students that they can succeed and be proud to be a part of this essential work.

Hazel Howell-Smith, 11 February 2019

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