Building careers – Does construction have an image problem?

New research from Mobile Mini suggests the UK’s construction industry could struggle to attract new talent – despite the fact that nearly half of young people agree that it’s a vital part of the UK economy.

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Mobile Mini polled over 650 18 to 24-year-olds via YouGov to canvas their views on working in the sector, finding that just 3% had actively searched for a job in the construction industry, and only 5% believe it’s a desirable sector to work in.

Around a quarter of respondents said salary is the most important thing to them when choosing a job, and the same proportion named career progression as their biggest motivator. Another 39% said they would expect to be offered formal training with their jobs, while 17% would consider an apprenticeship. Retail was the most popular sector for job searches overall, followed by hospitality, travel and leisure.

The survey indicated that the construction industry may have an image problem with the younger generation, with 45% of respondents believing jobs in construction are mainly targeted at men. Additionally, a quarter thought the sector lacks job security, and just 17% believe the construction industry is currently growing.

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But how does this perception stack up with the facts?

The Markit/CIPS UK construction purchasing manager’s index, generally viewed as a bellwether of the industry’s health, shows the industry has enjoyed strong periods of growth since 2013. Meanwhile, the government’s ONS figures show the industry’s output increased by 2.6% in the year to June 2015, and it employs nearly two million people.

And a 2014 survey of 2,000 UK employees by recruiter Randstad found that construction workers are among those feeling most secure in their jobs throughout all sectors, more so than those working in IT and creative industries. The latest monthly report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation also suggests that employees with engineering and construction skills are the most sought-after across the whole of the UK economy.

Louise Arnold, Director of Human Resources at Mobile Mini, believes the majority of young people in the UK are simply not aware of the Mobile_Mini_Education_Assets-04

varied range of opportunities to be found in the construction sector.

“The industry itself clearly has work to do in appealing to bright, young graduates and school leavers,” she said.

“The results also show a clear disconnect between a desire for formal on the job training and appetite for apprenticeship roles. Our own apprenticeship scheme has produced some fantastic employees who are making a big contribution to the company.”