Building a Better Future
Attracting Young People to a Career in Construction
Our population is growing and with it comes an increasing demand for housing.
However, ‘the construction workforce in the UK is rapidly decreasing,’ so how will we ensure the supply of houses can meet the demands of the coming years?
What can we do to attract young talent to the homebuilding industry?
Skills Shortage in the Industry
According to estimates made in the Construction Skills Network report, the construction industry will need over a quarter of a million additional workers by 2026.
In order to tackle this problem, we must first address the issue of the declining number of young people entering the construction industry.
This is commonly understood to be due to a lack of knowledge among young people about the range of career options and progression routes available to them. Sadly, research carried out by YouGov Omnibus found that only 3% of 18 to 24 year olds had actively searched for a role in the construction industry.
What Can Homebuilders Do?
The need for education around the construction industry and the different roles that workers play in creating our built world, is paramount. Homebuilders are in a prime position to provide this education, with their first-hand experience used to showcase the industry to the young.
In some cases, this could be as simple as attending career fairs to engage the potential workforce but for others, it might be felt that the advice is best taken to educational institutions. Here, the advantage of the captive audience in a classroom might increase their engagement and understanding of the experiences and options available to them.
Furthermore, once interest has been garnered, homebuilders then need to focus on helping young workers get started out in the industry. Initiatives such as work experience, internships and graduate programmes are a great way to enable young people to embark on a career in construction.
Working from the Ground Up
In recent years, a new method of attracting young minds to the idea of a career in housebuilding has emerged.
One example of this approach is Orbit Group’s ‘Building Buddies’ programme. Through this educational scheme, children aged 7 to 11 attending a primary school local to an Orbit development can experience a hands-on visit to site.
Here, children can develop their knowledge and skills while exploring the site, speaking to the development team, learning about health and safety, and discovering how new houses are constructed.
Orbit Group also provides a number of worksheets and educational materials for school aged children at Key Stage 1 and 2 to entice them into the industry.
Similarly, Cala’s ‘Land to Life’ scheme provides teachers and educators with a number of resources aimed to educate children aged 7 to 11. These lesson plans explain how new communities are created, from land acquisition through to sales and marketing.
Land to Life pupils will follow a six lesson plan, including:
• Who Built This?
• Housing Developments
• Mapping the Land
• Planning Permission
• Design and Technology
Pupils gain a broad knowledge of these subjects, and an understanding of their required skills and possible career paths available in the homebuilding industry.
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)
Another believer in attracting a potential workforce in their early years is the CITB, who are aiming to bring construction to life in schools, arguing that, ‘Promoting construction careers to school children is a big part of attracting new talent to industry.’
Giving existing workers the skills necessary to effectively share their experiences is one way to show young people the opportunities available to them.
CITB works with construction employers, training providers and the government, while maintaining relationships across the entire construction skills landscape. They work with a range of employers, from large construction companies such as Balfour Beatty, Kier and Wates, to small and medium builders such as Chestnut Homes Ltd in England, Calmax Construction Ltd in Scotland and Albion Workplace Solutions in Wales.
The CITB supports 75 training groups. Local construction employers can join up and benefit from discounted training, networking and participating in projects that promote construction as an attractive and viable career.
You can find CITB events and courses in your area at: https://www.citb.co.uk/about-citb/what-we-do/citb-in-your-local-area/
Inviting Students for Work Placements
If you’re a homebuilder thinking about arranging work placements to show youngsters what can be gained from a career in the construction industry, there are providers you can contact to organise this.
NOCN is an educational charity who provide a range of products to support Apprenticeship delivery, from regulated qualifications to support on programme fulfilment, to End Point Assessment.
There are a number of apprenticeship options available in the construction and built environment sector, including bricklayer, groundworker, construction site supervisor, lifting technician and many more.
You can find out more about working with NOCN, and register your details, at: https://www.nocn.org.uk/products/apprenticeships/
The Construction Youth Trust is a charity enabling young people to find careers in construction and the built environment sector.
They focus on creating hubs in areas where there are high levels of unemployment, low skills or in-work poverty. They look for areas that have long term prospects for those taking up a career in construction, where the demand will exceed 10 years.
Currently they have hubs in:
• Hammersmith & Fulham
• Kensington & Chelsea
• Barking & Dagenham
• Tower Hamlets
• North Kent
The Construction Youth Trust want to ensure that young people, especially school-goers, understand the options and roles available to them. They facilitate work experience placements in construction to help inspire the next generation.
You can help The Construction Youth Trust by providing funding for a course for young people to have a go at construction; provide work placements for students; volunteer on a Construction Youth Trust programme within your community; or provide their students with role models who are currently working in the industry.
To find out more, go to: https://www.constructionyouth.org.uk/partner-us
Offering Graduate Programmes
Although we have discussed how to attract young talent to the construction industry at school and school-leaving age, scouring for talent from the pool of university graduates is also a great way to get younger workers to set their sights on a career in construction.
Many homebuilders offer graduate programmes, including Barratt Homes, Cala Homes, London Square, Redrow and more.
Each graduate scheme allows for training and development in a particular area of the business in order to progress that specific construction career path.
Many employees who have entered the business on a graduate programme eventually find themselves in a high position within the organisation. This is testament to the success of these initiatives and also a sign of the industry’s commitment to the young talent they attract; nurturing their career development and helping them progress within the industry.
And finally, one of the best ways to encourage more people to join the homebuilding industry is by sharing the benefits of your career with others, talking about what you enjoy and what you have got out of working in construction.