Engaging the next generation of construction talent will require a collaborative approach, writes David Kirkwood FCIOB from the National House Building Council
It is disappointing that despite the housebuilding industry offering rewarding and varied careers, it is not seen as an attractive option for many. According to National House Building Council (NHBC) research, just 9% of young people are definitely considering working in construction.
Additionally, a large proportion of this small number are primarily influenced by having a relative or close friend who already works in the sector. It’s clear more needs to be done to raise the industry’s profile.
NHBC previously created a guidance paper showing the diversity of careers in housebuilding and explaining the vast range of practical, technical and corporate opportunities available. As the UK’s largest home warranty provider and as part of our core purpose to raise standards in house building, I feel NHBC is uniquely positioned to support the construction industry as it faces both a skills shortage and potential skills exodus due to an ageing population heading for retirement.
Initiatives already in place
There are several excellent initiatives already in place, including the Home Builders Federation’s Home Building Skills Partnership and the Construction Industry Training Board’s Go Construct platform, which provides resources for anyone looking for a career in the construction sector.
You don’t just have to be ‘handy’. You can develop you career in any area, start as any trade, learn from day one and then progress to specialise or move on to senior management and leadership roles
Credit should also be given to the work of several major housebuilders, which are working to attract and promote talent within their businesses.
These are all worthwhile activities. However, when speaking with industry leaders daily, it becomes clear that there must be a more holistic approach to tackle this huge subject.
We can only achieve this by pulling together to showcase everything construction has to offer. That way we can all share our success stories to inspire people to join us and build their careers in construction and, in my area of particular interest, housebuilding.
Freedom to develop
I truly cannot think of another industry where there is so much opportunity to develop your career.
You don’t just have to be ‘handy’. You can develop you career in any area, start as any trade, learn from day one and then progress to specialise or move on to senior management and leadership roles.
This is a unique and powerful message and it’s something we must join forces to communicate.
And, of course, we all benefit. The people joining this industry get fantastic opportunities and we can, I hope, successfully begin to address the looming shortage of people and skills that rightly concerns us all.
The industry has given me lots of opportunities and I’m passionate that young people do not miss out.
That is why we need a rallying call and a way to bring together industry-focused, influential leaders and individuals who can share this vision to make an impact and secure the future of our invaluable industry.
To find out more or offer your support, email firstname.lastname@example.org
David Kirkwood FCIOB is head of commercial risk at NHBC and member of the Home Builders Federation’s Career Attraction Group.