Many in the construction industry have told me a major cause of the skills crisis is due to a lack of marketing.
Another frequently cited theory is that the image of the sector doesn’t appeal to children.
So it was a surprise to me this Christmas when I stumbled across a kid’s film which featured a construction worker as the main protagonist.
The everyman hero of the movie is guided by a diverse band of ‘master builders’ that literally use their construction skills to build their way past every challenge.
The film was, for those that haven’t guessed, the Lego Movie, which also turned out to be pretty popular at the box office grossing around half a billion worldwide.
Children were inspired by the movie too, with Lego struggling to cope with the strength of demand for its little bricks following the film’s release.
It’s far from the first mainstream on-screen construction worker star, as from Postman Pat’s mate Ted Glen to Bob the Builder, there have consistently been positive depictions of our industry targeted at the younger generations.
It makes you wonder how can there be a lack of skilled workers? What stops children swapping Lego blocks for bricks and mortar when they grow up?
Well one explanation is quite simple: there is a distinct shortcoming when it comes to presenting the opportunities available for a career in construction.
Today I used the official government apprenticeships finder to search for ‘construction’ related roles and found only 135 opportunities in the whole of England.
Compare that to the term ‘hairdressing’ which displays 774 related positions on the same internet resource.
It seems apprentice roles either don’t exist (obviously not the case) or are hidden from those who might want to find them.
Considering the government portal would be a reliable starting point for candidates that had little to no knowledge of the industry, it’s very disappointing how few construction related roles are being advertised there.
While any number of construction firms invest time in outreach work, or producing mascots for school visits, it might help if they could get the positions onto the official government finder.
Marketing is one thing, but it’s doomed to failure if the opportunities aren’t made accessible.