Attracting the next generation into construction.

Team of construction engineers wearing vest and helmet safety discussing project at construction site.Group Indian foreman with laptop, paperwork working at factory marking precast concrete wall

Let’s address the challenges to find the solutions

The construction industry stands at a crossroads, as veterans of the trade approach retirement, the sector grapples with the challenge of attracting and training the next generation of skilled workers. This isn’t just a concern for companies struggling to find skilled workers – it’s a missed opportunity for a new generation.

In this blog, we’ll tackle the issues facing the construction industry’s aging workforce and any outdated perceptions head-on. Furthermore, we’ll explore the strong earning potential in construction careers and offer practical solutions to engage young people and make construction a more accessible and attractive path for the future.

What are the challenges getting the next generation into construction?

Aging Workforce

The construction professionals who have formed the backbone of the workforce for decades are reaching retirement age at an alarming rate. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of construction workers over 60 has grown more than any other age group.

This creates a huge knowledge gap – these workers possess a wealth of experience and honed skills accumulated over years on the job. The lack of replacements for skilled professionals like electricians, project managers and engineers threaten to slow down projects, drive up costs and potentially even impact the quality of construction.

Changing perceptions

Even though the construction industry is constantly innovating the perception of working in it varies. A new study found that one in five people had a negative perception of tradespeople.

To change perceptions, we need to change the narrative and focus on promoting innovation and  sustainability whilst engaging with the next generation.

It’s time to innovate

Highlighting the technological advancements and innovative practices within the industry is essential. From the use of drones in surveying to the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and green building techniques, construction is at the forefront of technological innovation. Showcasing these aspects can change the narrative, presenting construction as a dynamic and forward-thinking field.

Sustainability and Impact

With growing concerns about climate change and sustainability, many young people are motivated to make a positive impact. The construction industry plays a pivotal role in developing sustainable buildings and infrastructure, contributing to environmental stewardship. Emphasising the industry’s commitment to sustainable practices and its impact on creating a better world can resonate with values-driven young individuals.

Industry expert Robbie Blackhurst spoke with CIOB people and had this to say:

“70% of people between the ages of 16 and 25 are extremely worried about climate change…By explaining the green efforts that the industry is making, subcontractors can show young people that construction is constantly becoming a more sustainable practice, and one to which they can make valuable, eco-friendly contributions.”

Engagement and accessibility

Making construction careers more accessible through apprenticeships, internships and hands-on workshops can provide tangible experiences of the industry’s benefits. The good news is that 91% of UK tradespeople who undertook an apprenticeship had a positive experience however, 40% felt there wasn’t enough hands-on work in their apprenticeship programme. Engaging with students at schools and universities to provide a realistic view of construction careers, emphasising the variety of roles, from hands-on trades to project management, engineering and design, can broaden their understanding of the industry’s opportunities.

Promote earning potential

The promising earning potential within the construction industry presents a compelling case for the next generation considering their career paths. According to the latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report, around 225,000 new construction workers are needed by 2027 to fill the demand. 

The principles of supply and demand come sharply into play here, elevating the earning potential for those skilled in construction disciplines. With the average UK salary hovering around £34,900, the construction sector average salary is over 25% higher – £47,500 according to totaljobs. This statistic shows the financial viability of careers in construction but also hints at the upward mobility and financial security that the industry can offer.

Highlighting this substantial earning potential could be a key strategy in attracting young talent, shifting perceptions of the construction sector from a lower value job to a career of choice, with opportunities for professional growth, financial stability and the chance to contribute to tangible way.

It’s clear that the construction industry has plenty of opportunity for the next generation. By addressing the aging workforce, shifting outdated perceptions and highlighting the industry’s commitment to sustainability and technological advancements, we pave a more inviting path for young talents.

The construction sector’s promising earning potential further bolsters this appeal, offering fulfilling careers that pay well, amidst the cost-of-living crisis, with the chance for growth and a role in crafting tomorrow’s landscapes. Moving forward, it’s essential for the industry to continue these efforts, ensuring that the construction field is not just seen as a viable option but as a desirable and rewarding choice for the innovators, builders, and visionaries of the future.

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