Attracting new skills into construction is at the top of everybody’s agenda.
Construction needs to fill 200,000 jobs over the next five years, against the backdrop of an ageing workforce and the industry having shed people capacity in the downturn.
Yet the industry is not seen as a first-choice career.
A 2014 CITB report found 35 per cent of careers advisers believe construction is ‘unattractive’.
The industry has quite a task on its hands, but it’s not an impossible one.
Many individual construction companies are already investing huge resources in attracting new recruits.
We are all competing for the best talent.
As an industry we also have to compete with those professions– such as medicine and law – seen as a first-choice option.
So how can we up our game?
At UKCG, we have begun a journey to try to make a difference.
Our first priority has been to address many of the myths about construction jobs and to portray an image of a 21st-century industry.
One way of doing this was to get 30 young people already working in the industry to tell their stories, in their own way through social media, to the generation immediately behind them.
“We know from previous experience of Open Doors that people are amazed by what they see on site”
You can read about these young ambassadors on the Born to Build website.
This is generating a good deal of interest among schools and careers advisers, and turning more attention to our next project: Open Doors Weekend 2015.
On 6-7 March during National Careers Week, UKCG members will be opening up around 80 live construction sites to further showcase the diverse range of career opportunities we have to offer.
This will give young people – and their influencers – the chance to see the best of our industry first hand.
There are some fantastic projects being showcased from new infrastructure such as Crossrail to universities, schools, hospitals and theatres – all the things this industry does to support our everyday needs.
A full list of sites can be found on our website.
UKCG members aim to offer more than 5,000 site visits overall during Open Doors and will be following up with offers of work experience places for those who are keen to look at a career in construction.
We know from previous experience of Open Doors that people are amazed by what they see on site.
The challenge is getting them there is the first place.
This is where UKCG needs the help of everybody in the industry.
Many of you are involved in school projects. Many of you have children and grandchildren at school.
Some of you are school governors; some of you are involved in the scouts and guides movements.
It would be fantastic if you could use these networks to promote Open Doors.
Born to Build and Open Doors provide a platform for the industry to sell itself.
But they will only work if we all shout about them from within.
Thank you for your help.
Stephen Ratcliffe is director of the UK Contractors Group