Construction II

"I wanted a career with variety that brought new challenges every day and tangible results after all your efforts, something that allowed me to work outside and see the world, not stuck behind a desk from nine to five" -Victoria Wilkinson, civil engineer for the Halcrow Group
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The Independent Online

"I wanted a career with variety that brought new challenges every day and tangible results after all your efforts, something that allowed me to work outside and see the world, not stuck behind a desk from nine to five" -Victoria Wilkinson, civil engineer for the Halcrow Group

How's the industry doing?

Over £50bn a year is spent on construction. It is the largest single manufacturing industry in the UK, offering a variety of qualified careers. So why, according to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), do 70 per cent of construction companies in the South-east express concern with recruitment problems?

In fact, there is a skills shortage in construction that threatens to stifle the industry's growth ­ a greater threat 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.

Doesn't the attractive builder's bum draw in the punters?

This is a negative and out-dated image, concerning itself with construction sites rather than the much-overlooked professional side. Fuelled by stereotypical ideas and TV adverts, the industry is left with a foundation made of sand. And we all know what happens then.

So what future awaits the construction industry?

All is not lost. 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 this state of affairs. It was formed to tell students about 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.

Perception v Reality

To spread this message and close the divide between construction site perception and industry reality, there are a range of services used by the SECCG. These include:

Young presenters­ successful construction graduates and undergraduates, mainly aged 25­35. They travel to schools and colleges discussing why they have chosen a career in construction and what prospects are available. In the South-east and London there are over 150 young presenters from approximately 40 companies, mainly national and regional contractors. The CITB aims to increase this number by 50 per cent nationally within the next year.

Work experience ­ probably the most recognised "tool" for giving an initial taste of the workplace and a general overview of construction to those over 15.

Work shadowing ­ a more focused approach that allows A-level students and undergraduates the opportunity to follow every aspect of a particular job.

Site visits ­ include presentations from the management team combined with classroom based simulation activities that identify key roles within the industry.

Careers presentations ­ by young professionals

Workshops ­ giving students hands-on experience of the qualified careers in construction.

Seminars ­ catered for careers advisers in addition to students. These seminars aim to raise awareness regarding the potential future of the industry.

But what do you do with a construction qualification?

Professional and managerial careers in construction are varied, making full use of people's creative, technical and business skills. There is a sense of achievement that comes from contributing to our society and economy. 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 are:

  • 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

What about job security?

There are 1.4 million people working in the construction industry. Keeping them there, especially at managerial and professional levels, is of fundamental importance to all construction firms and contractors.

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