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'Generation thumb' says training is key in construction careers

15 Dec 11 Construction's future employees regard training and development as the most important consideration when choosing a company to work for.

That was the key finding of a CITB-ConstructionSkills’ survey of 'generation thumb' – anyone born after 1985 and so-called because of their enthusiasm for texting and gaming.

The survey, on the bconstructive website, cited ‘the opportunity to become your own boss’ as the most appealing factor about working in construction.

This was followed closely by the variety offered by working on different projects and the opportunity to become a master craftsman in a specialist area.

When choosing an organisation to work for, the respondents said a company’s ‘commitment to training and development’ was most important. This was almost matched by the organisation’s ‘reputation as a fair employer’. However, a company’s size, location, reward package and its commitment to the green agenda were not rated highly in the pecking order.

Surprisingly, the potential financial rewards were low down the priority listing for youngsters but the majority thought that earnings in construction were about the same (41%) or higher (35%) than other careers.

‘Teamwork’ topped the poll as the aptitude, ability or skill the participants thought most useful to bring to the industry.

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Project management and organisational skills however, were not rated highly with most reckoning that technical ability, confidence and physical fitness were of more value to a prospective employer.

The gaming generation also placed ‘Hand to eye co-ordination skills/good motor skills’ higher in the skills stakes than people skills.

Janette Welton-Pai, sector strategy manager for careers at CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: “It’s clear from the survey that young people interested in construction are driven, ambitious and ready for tough challenges. This is exactly what construction needs - quality candidates who are keen to raise the bar and meet the future needs of an ever changing industry.

"As an industry we need to pay close attention to the expectations and asks around training and development. Opportunities for up-skilling and continuous improvement must be an integral part of our sector’s offering or we risk losing talented youngsters who will bring their skills and energy elsewhere.”

Other survey findings include:

  • Three quarters of respondents (76%) thought that 20 – 30% of the construction workforce were female. According to latest stats women make up only 13% of the workforce, 12% in non-manual positions and just under1% in manual roles although the industry is actively trying to raise awareness of opportunities for females in the sector.
  • The qualification or training most associated with construction were Apprenticeship, BTEC Diploma, NVQ / Diploma.
  • Over half (52%) thought apprenticeships was the most important way to help secure a career in the industry. Only 1 in 10 thought higher qualifications such as a Postgraduate Qualification or a Higher National Diploma were important to getting into the industry.

The Generation Thumb survey was conducted as part of the CITB-ConstuctionSkills’ Positive Image campaign.

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