Construction I

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The Independent Online

More than £50bn a year is spent on construction, making it the largest single manufacturing industry in the UK. The variety of qualified careers available would satisfy the most ambitious school leaver or undergraduate. So why, according to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), are 70 per cent of construction companies based in the South-East concerned by recruitment problems?

More than £50bn a year is spent on construction, making it the largest single manufacturing industry in the UK. The variety of qualified careers available would satisfy the most ambitious school leaver or undergraduate. So why, according to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), are 70 per cent of construction companies based in the South-East concerned by recruitment problems?

In fact, there is a skills shortage in construction that threatens to stifle the industry's growth ­ a greater threat indeed than any perceived economic recession. Many firms are now working at full capacity and are unable to bid for new work as they lack the staff to service the contracts. There is a negative image of the construction industry that focuses entirely on construction sites (rather than the much overlooked professional side), and it is fuelled by stereotypical adverts and TV programmes.

Getting your foot in the door

Work experience is probably the most recognised "tool" for gaining an initial taste of the workplace and a general overview of construction to those aged 15 and over. Work shadowing is a more focused approach that allows GNVQ, A-level students and undergraduates the opportunity to follow every element of a particular job, by "shadowing" the expert, hopefully reinforcing their chosen career path. Site visits involve presentations from the management team combined with classroom-based simulation activities that identify key roles within the industry. Careers presentations by young professionals, workshops offering students hands-on experience of the qualified careers in construction, and seminars catered both for careers advisers and students, are further opportunities for raising awareness of the potential future of the industry.

Professional and managerial careers in construction are varied, making full use of people's creative, technical and business skills. The sense of achievement that comes from contributing to our society and economy by turning dreams of housing, hospitals, schools and leisure into reality is demanding but satisfying. Some who enter this area of the industry will become specialised in their chosen field. Others will start their own companies or become managers in construction businesses, large or small. Many will work internationally. The range of management and professional careers generally available at the start can be seen below:

  • Architecture
  • Building services and environmental engineering
  • Civil and structural engineering
  • Surveying (building, general practice, quantity, land or engineering and mineral surveyors)
  • Building and construction management
  • Town planning

There is only 4 per cent unemployment within the industry, compared to the national average of 7.per cent. With 1.4 m people working in the construction industry, keeping them there, especially at managerial and professional levels, is obviously of fundamental importance to all construction firms and contractors. There is now a solid foundation that reveals the many benefits the construction industry can offer to intelligent and ambitious young minds.

If you are interested by the potential within the construction industry; if the freedom of working on any project, anywhere in the world, with physical results that will stand for years, is something that inspires you; if you don't want to be chained to a desk pushing paper eight hours a day, and instead want a more challenging and prosperous career, then get in contact with your regional careers group or adviser.

For more information about the managerial and professional careers within the construction industry, please contact:

Liza Smith, SECCG Group Co-ordinator on 01732 467334.

The South-East Construction Careers Group (SECCG) is part of 13 regional liaison groups established nationally by the construction industry to deal, in part, with the state of affairs outlined above for their particular area. It was formed to increase student awareness of the opportunities within the industry, particularly at professional management level. In short, the SECCG is determined to "show and tell" the young public that construction is a business worth entering

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