General Construction 1,548 views Jun 05, 2019

Young people and their lack of interest in construction is a continual conversation within the industry, so as a 23 year old female who works in construction, I have to ask myself ‘Why has the industry lost its shine for our youth? What does the industry really need to do to make construction an industry of choice for young people, writes Paige Chapman?

Construction is one of the most diverse and creative industries in the world. Spanning centuries and every country, there’s a rich history and a bright future that cannot be denied. So why is the younger generation uninterested in becoming a part of it? If they could see and experience the diversity of roles and projects that I help promote through social media, I’m sure they’d change their minds.

I feel perception is a big part of the problem, as put simply young adults often think that working in construction is difficult manual labour that is poorly paid and better suited to men. Construction was once treated like a family heirloom, passed down from father to son for generations, but many young people are rejecting their parents’ expectations of them, without realising just how much the sector now has to offer. A career in the skilled trades is not seen as an exciting option in these times of YouTube and Instagram stars. Why go and physically exert yourself to get paid when you see people every day making videos and posting #Ads on Instagram… and getting paid a lot of money for it?!

With such a masculine history, it’s understandable that so many young women don’t realise that it is a great career option for them. So many of the world’s top architects, engineers and surveyors are women, but there are also opportunities to be a graphic designer for a major contractor, or a copywriter, or a marketing or social media specialist talking about the exciting advancements that the world is making every day in construction. Check out the author of this blog!

More and more young women are taking on trades and becoming excellent carpenters, plumbers, electricians etc. The promotion of these jobs needs to be stronger within education and from companies. A recent report by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) stated that a third of homeowners would rather hire a female builder. Young women should be encouraged to take up these roles and the success stories of these women, who are paving the way, should be shared.

Together we need to break down the outdated perceptions relating to the industry as they are both wrong and damaging to its future. Young people are vital to businesses, they bring with them enthusiasm, new ideas, an instant understanding of new technologies and they are ultimately our future. Because of this, every industry - not just construction - should be trying their hardest to welcome graduates and apprentices into the fold.

So what needs to be done? Education needs to be the starting point in changing people’s opinions of a career in construction. Schools need to communicate and promote, to both genders, the diversity of construction, the roles it offers and the pathways into such a great industry. Ultimately, they need to push construction as a viable career option. Construction is creative and gives people the opportunity to leave behind a legacy. Any building work they may physically build, design or be a part of will be around for centuries to come and a great sense of pride and accomplishment comes with that.

There has never been a better time to join the building industry. It is ripe with new opportunities and the shifting responsibilities of current roles, as new technology comes into play. Which is why there needs to be more communication to get the message out there that this industry isn’t just for older men. Young people, boys and girls alike, will bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm into this industry and expand it even further into the future.

Here at Fabrick, we see the potential in young apprentices and graduates and each of our departments has a trainee or junior just brimming with innovative approaches to our work and ideas that our other members of staff may have never thought of. Meanwhile, our older staff members share their industry knowledge and experience with them. We find that a mixture of ages in each team really enhances the ability of the group as a whole, as they all have different areas of speciality and expertise!

So, to conclude, companies should be pushing to show young people that the construction industry is a great place to spread their wings in the world of work.

Paige Chapman is Digital Media Trainee, at Fabrick, a construction specialist Marketing and communications company.