As thousands of young people consider their options following the publication of their A-Level and GCSE results, CITB-ConstructionSkills said conversations with young people expressing an interest in the industry via its careers website bconstructive suggested these were the main draws.
The recognition of the scope for career progression comes despite the negative impact the recession has had on perceptions of the industry among young people generally, showing that some young people are still conscious of the long-term opportunities in the industry as it returns to growth.
With an aging workforce an extra 45,000 entrants are needed each year until 2015 to head off a widening skills gap, including 2,520 construction managers, 1,470 senior, executive and business process managers, 1,340 civil engineers and 970 surveyors.
Mark Farrar, chief executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said:
“Our conversations with young people interested in pursuing a career in construction indicate that career progression, opportunities to work internationally, start their own business or become a master craftsman are the main reasons for their interest.
“This is heartening news as it shows that these young people are viewing construction as a career, not a job, which suggests that, for them at least, their perceptions of the industry have shifted from the outdated stereotypes of the past.
“Many young people tell us they want to become managers and in fact a significant proportion of current managers in the industry came through an apprenticeship route and then did further qualifications.
“In addition, more than 35% of people in the construction industry are their own boss and run their own companies.
“We know that most employers think more should be done to improve the public’s image of construction and we’re listening and responding to that and working hard to enhance the reputation of our industry and attract new blood into it.
“Our Positive Image campaign highlights the wide range of occupations and scope for career progression and training that exist in the industry, including higher level career options.
“As a result we have nearly 300,000 visitors each year to our bconstructive website, where young people can find out about apprenticeships and apply online.
“We also visit schools and colleges, support national and regional careers and recruitment events and organise events for young people and their parents to raise awareness of the industry and link them with employers.
“However, raising awareness of the industry is only half the battle as we have to ensure that we can offer these young people a way into our industry once we have sparked their interest.
“The number of 16-19 year olds in construction has more than halved since the recession started while one in six workers is due to retire in the next 10 years so we have to ensure that apprenticeships are available for young people.
“To head off the widening skills gap and a potentially crippling retirement timebomb it’s important that we all do all we can to ensure that young people are not just attracted to our industry but able to enter it if they want to.”