Construction now an 'attractive' career path for over 50% of UK young adults

Research from NBS reveals that construction has now become a desirable career path for UK school leavers and young adults.

NBS quizzed 2,000 18-29-year-olds across the UK regarding construction as a potential vocation, with 56% now considering it an 'attractive profession with plenty of prospects'.

The research came as the sector saw job vacancies hit an all-time high (49,000) earlier this year.

Russell Haworth, CEO of NBS, 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. The challenge for the sector now is to jump on this opportunity, we must not miss it as has previously been the case."

It also found that over 20% of women are interested in a construction role. But a similar proportion also reported that peers and family have tried to dissuade them from taking a job in the sector.

Meanwhile, 57% of females also stated that they consider construction to be a generally 'diverse' industry.

Mirudhula Ponraj, 26, a Technical Trainee Assistant at Bellway Homes, said, “It's interesting to hear that more women are interested in construction. Great strides are being made in terms of inclusion, but we know more work still needs to be done for the sector to represent 21st century Britain. With schemes such as Women into Construction, I'm optimistic that we'll see more change in the next ten years.

“There's a misconception that construction is all about muddy boots, today's industry is so much more. I studied Building Information Modelling (BIM) at uni. The fifth of women mentioned in NBS' study looking to enter the industry might be surprised to learn that roles can be incredibly diverse. The next generation now have the opportunity to work with technical programmes and computer systems.

'Engineer', particularly structural and civils roles, ranked number two when it came to the list of most sought-after jobs.

This was second only to 'Healthcare Professional' in popularity, ranking higher than 'Legal Professional', 'Teacher', 'Designer' or even 'Social Media Influencer'.

8% were specifically interested in an architectural career, potentially indicating why so many young people appear interested in making their mark in construction. Almost a third stated a passion for architecture and a similar number wanted to 'create a better physical' world. 

Over a third said they were interested in construction because they see it as an industry 'going through a massive, positive change'.  NBS said this might reflect a growing public awareness over the past few years around the sector's growing diversity, greater digital adoption and greener approaches to business.

Salary and earning potential were a main motivator. 'Good pay' ranked top of the incentive list, followed by a good home and work balance (2), a respectful working environment (3), interesting work (4) and working with nice people (5). 

But the NBS warned that a shortage of teaching staff could limit the number of young people entering construction. A recent study by the Association of Colleges (AoC) found skill shortages among staff looking to teach construction are stalling progress.

Some 85% of further education colleges have struggled to secure staff to teach the relevant subjects.

Haworth concluded: "This study has proven to be a litmus test of where the industry is heading within the next twenty years – seeing more women and greater diversity entering the workforce will only continue its upward trajectory. With so much interest from young people our next challenge is turning interest into long and fruitful careers."

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Education Construction