John Rowan and Partners, Building Magazine and the Construction Youth Trust have launched a new initiative to attract new talent into the industry

Over the past eight months we have undertaken a piece of in-depth research to try and better understand attitudes of undergraduates towards the construction sector and their future careers in the construction professions. We are all aware that there is a shortage of talent in the construction sector and we wanted to ask the sector’s youngest new recruits where they think the problem lies.

Like most companies within the construction industry we are only as good as the people we employ, attracting and retaining the best in the industry is one of our core business goals. But yet again as we came through the financial crisis, it quickly became harder to recruit as our industry moved from high levels of graduate unemployment into another skills shortage.

With recruitment and retention, a business critical issue for us, we wanted to investigate how and why (with all the rhetoric around the skills shortage) the industry isn’t managing to attract enough people to meet its demand.

Getting to the source of the Skills shortage

What became clear to us was that while there are many great organisations undertaking work to provide resources and information to schools, our education system still lacks an awareness and understanding of the opportunities that the UK construction industry has to offer. A lot of the undergraduates we spoke first became attracted to the industry through friends and family connections or work experience. More noticeably, very few were guided by their schools on the opportunities within our industry.

Who educates the educators?

Our findings showed us that there appears to be a lack of career guidance for school children interested in the construction professions and little awareness among teachers and career advisers of the opportunities within the industry. For this reason, there is little driving schools to promote the sector on our behalf

The problem therefore is not that school children don’t have access to information about careers in the construction industry, it’s that they’re not even looking. The issue the sector has to solve is how to get children asking the questions in the first place.

Targeting the source

Decisions about entering our industry really need to be made at 16 when career choices are being formed and defined by the academic decisions which go on to shape our careers in the short and in some cases longer-term.

However, the task for the sector is huge as, according to the ONS, in England alone there are 8.4 million pupils enrolled in state funded and independent schools and 2.7 million pupils enrolled in Academies. The only possible way to deliver a message to these pupils must be through the support of companies from across the length and breadth of the UK.

Experience Construction – letting schools know you’re there

It is up to us all as an industry to take action and show children and teachers who do not have access to the industry through friends and family, just what they are missing and what the opportunities are.

This is why we have teamed up with Building Magazine and the Construction Youth Trust to help launch a ‘register’ for companies to sign up to and pledge to work with the Construction Youth Trust and their ‘Experience Construction’ initiative.

The Experience Construction initiative is the perfect way for companies to build strong connections with local schools. Working with the Construction Youth Trust will help facilitate direct interaction between construction firms and local schools – helping them to create long lasting and positive relationships. The Trust provides the guidance and support to show organisations how you to set up workshops with schools so they have a real impact.

Now is the time to sign up to the register and pledge to offer work experience to local schools.  Getting involved with ‘Experience Construction’ will highlight the opportunities and rewards that our great industry has to offer and will ultimately help companies to showcase themselves and develop relationships with the future talent of our sector.  A win win situation in my view.

To sign up to offer work experience placements 


To sign up to offer work experience placements