How can the UK make construction jobs attractive in the digital era?
Builder services provider, Novus Property Solutions conducted a survey that revealed a huge 73 per cent of the UK feel that schools and universities are not doing enough to raise awareness about the kinds of opportunities that the construction industry can offer. Despite the fact that the industry saw its highest level of orders in Q2 last year – £13.4 billion, which was the biggest upswing since 2009 – skills shortages are still a huge problem.
However, Head of HR at Novus Property Solutions, Stuart Cavanagh, thinks that things are starting to change for the better. “With more information available to young people, the industry can begin to recruit young talent again and will meet the immense demand for its services,” he commented.
“Reiterating the quality and value of a career in construction will make a lasting impression on future generations. Of course, it begins with schools. How we intend to make construction appealing is completely dependent on our approach at the earliest stages of a person’s development. We have to be informed, understanding and focused – construction may not appeal to some, but it’s clear that the industry is missing out on recruiting some really talented people simply because of a lack of awareness.”
Novus has a proud history of bringing apprentices through the ranks. Schools and universities can also look to their syllabus and course, as there are certain subjects that provide skills that are completely integral to construction.
Only last week Scottish Science Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville suggested that young people should consider STEM subjects, which are central to not only construction but also medicine, animal health and engineering. By increasing the availability of apprenticeships, we can continue to provide opportunities to young people who are informed and ready to begin a career in construction. It isn’t just about making the industry more attractive to young people, however. The industry must, in turn, understand the motivations of young people.
Paul Matthews, Managing Director at conservatory design specialists Auburn Hill ended with a summary of what young people look for in a career, and how learning should be at the forefront of our approach. “A focus on schools and colleges educating students and young people on the opportunities that a career in construction can bring is needed, alongside the construction industry also improving their ties with those facilities,” he continued.
“In order to attract millennial talent, then, you need to ensure the following; an attractive salary and benefits package, development programme and continuous training.” It’s clear that this is a two-way street. The industry must make itself more appealing to young people by understanding what drives them.
As they become more informed as to the plethora of opportunities open to them in various other paths, construction continues to become the one less travelled. With the above advice, the industry can begin to overcome the skills gaps that have blighted it for several years.
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