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Survey shows young people don't hate construction

17 Aug 22 A survey of attitudes to construction careers appears to show that young people may be warming to the sector.

Careers are like colour schemes... hard to choose
Careers are like colour schemes... hard to choose

Construction is considered an ‘attractive’ career prospect by 56% of the 2,000 young people (18 to 29 years old) who took part in the survey.

They were asked “How attractive or unattractive do you consider a career in the construction sector?”;  24% said “very attractive” and 32% said “somewhat attractive”. Only 16% considered it somewhat or very unattractive.

However, when given a list of careers and asked which they most like to have (they were asked for their top two), only 9% put “skilled trade e.g. plumber, carpenter, bricklayer, electrician”. Among students in the sample, only 4% had any interest in a construction trade.

Students were also more likely to regard construction as an unattractive career prospect compared to those already working. Of the 129 unemployed young people responding to the survey, 35% regarded a career in construction as “very attractive”.

“Engineer” was in the top two most desired careers for 12% of the survey panel, making it second only to medical and healthcare professional (favoured by 13%). However, it is not clear whether respondents envisaged a career as an engineer in construction rather than software or space travel.

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Only 8% of respondents had architect in their top two roles. Finance, social media influencer, designer and educator all scored more highly than construction trades.

Among those who don’t fancy construction, top reasons given were that it was dirty and manual (52%), dangerous (37%), sexist (33%) and dull (22%).

Among those who like the idea of construction, the top reasons given were that it is “an industry going through massive change” (35%), they love architecture (32%), they want a practical job (32%), and they want to “create a better physical world” (31%).  The fact that there are a lot of routes into a well-paying career with a university education was also appreciated by 31% of construction fans.

Given the absence of any earlier data with which to compare, the results are clearly inconclusive. However, the survey sponsor, NBS, drew its own conclusions, apparently on the basis that construction has, in the past, generally had a hard time attracting the brightest and best of Britain's young talent. “The survey indicates a distinct cultural shift in attitudes amongst younger generations, in part, helped by the growing number of digital opportunities available and extensive media attention around the sector’s use of industry-leading tech, dispelling the myth that construction is a dead-end career,” it declared.

Russell Haworth, chief executive of NBS (formerly National Building Specification), said: “It’s clear that perceptions around construction are changing. Young people now realise it’s not the dull, dangerous, and dirty job as mislabelled for years by educators and career advisors. It’s great to see such an uptick in interest following some very lean years recruitment-wise."

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