A recent study conducted by Deconstruction, a campaign centred on improving the image of the construction industry and drawing in new talent, has revealed some troubling statistics. Approximately 69% of adults and a staggering 77% of students aged between 18-24 would not even consider a career in construction. This is alarming, considering the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) estimates that an additional 225,000 workers will be required by 2027 to meet rising demands.

Adding to the concern, over half of those surveyed believe that the construction sector falls short in its commitment to achieving net zero emissions. Despite the industry’s significant efforts to showcase its green credentials, it seems the message isn’t reaching its intended audience.

While apprenticeship numbers are on the rise, with over 26,000 starting in the year up until July 2022, the overall trend has been on a decline. This highlights an urgent need for the industry to revamp its image and appeal to potential new recruits.

The move towards net zero will increase the demand for skills in decarbonisation, data, digital and analytics. This presents a challenge for those who’ve been in the industry for a while, and it’s crucial for the industry to consider how it can attract fresh talent in these areas and upskill existing workers.

The industry can start by promoting its increasing use of innovative technology like robots, drones, AI and augmented/virtual reality. Many still perceive the industry as outdated, and showcasing these advancements can help change this perception.

Additionally, companies could sponsor learning programmes for those at the early stages of their construction careers at further education institutions. This would enable students to acquire knowledge and transferable skills for a career in a digital, sustainable, and collaboratively built environment. Such investment could yield significant returns, providing companies with direct access to those with a real passion and desire to progress, potentially leading to apprenticeships within their business.

Another critical area to address to attract and retain new talent in the construction industry is fairness, inclusion and respect (FIR). The latest FIR culture impact report by the Supply Chain Sustainability School found that a person’s ethnic background is the most likely factor to influence their experience in the construction industry. Women also report being treated less fairly at work than men.

According to the CITB, women make up less than 14.6% of the UK construction workforce, indicating a significant untapped potential. Only 5.4% of construction workers come from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to around 13.8% of the UK population and 40% of the London population.

The industry must invest in training, better promote its career advancement opportunities and improve work-life balance. Many prospective employees, particularly women, perceive the industry as lagging in these areas.

Investing in these aspects will help improve the representation of minority groups progressing into site manager and leadership roles, while simultaneously improving retention rates and attracting future entrants to the industry.

The construction sector is also often seen as lagging in terms of employee well-being. A recent survey revealed that 82% of builders in the UK suffer from mental health problems due to work-related issues, with 92% feeling unable to discuss their mental health with others in the workplace. This must change.

The sector is developing a culture where employees can speak openly and honestly about these issues, but more work needs to be done in this area.

In conclusion, the construction industry must take proactive steps to improve its image and attract new talent. Whether it’s through offering forklift hire in Sydney or forklift servicing in Sydney, or promoting the use of advanced technology like electric forklifts over diesel forklifts, every effort counts towards transforming the industry’s perception and creating a more inclusive and diverse work environment.