The image of the construction industry: Is there a proverbial ‘silver bullet’?

The image of the construction industry: Is there a proverbial ‘silver bullet’?

The Midlands Construction Summit (MCS) is set to return to the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, on the 27 September 2016. The Summit will be exploring ways to address issues that negatively impact on the future of the UK construction industry, whilst focusing on three intrinsically linked key themes: Skills, Image and Productivity.

With the public perception of the construction industry reported as being at an ‘all time low’ – the burning question is how do we engage fresh new talent to address the pressing issues surrounding skill shortages?

A YouGov poll of 2,000 members of the public measured perceptions of a number of industries and found that the vast majority would never consider a career in the construction industry with just 17% saying that they would give it thought. At a time when the industry has a shortfall of talent, with The National Infrastructure Plan for Skills reporting there are circa 100,000 workers needed to cope with construction demands – why do so many people not even consider construction as a career choice?

The industry, which accounts for more than 6% of the UK’s GDP, has a number of other image problems to combat, as nearly a quarter (23%) of those polled view construction work as creating ‘mess, traffic and inconvenience’.

So what is the solution – is there a proverbial ‘silver bullet’?

The Guardian reported, in 2015, that 99% of workers on building sites were males. Combine this with the industry being tarnished by individual negative domestic experiences and the media focusing on rogue traders and it all leads to a combination of negative perceptions of the sector.

Mike Petter, Scheme Director of Considerate Constructors Scheme and speaker at the Midlands Construction Summit, believes that the issue with addressing the problem lies within career recruitment at a young age: “If the industry was able to ask the question of friends and family – ‘would you recommend this industry to someone starting out in the work environment or someone looking for a career change?’ The response in my opinion, would likely be very low. A minority of careers advisers believe construction is a good career choice. In fact, a large proportion believe construction is only attractive to students who enjoy more practical and less academic tasks. These figures are significantly worse when the advice is being given to women. Only 6% of parents surveyed by the Institution of Engineering and Technology said an engineering career would be attractive to their daughters.”

Is the answer to the issue a coordinated campaign to start promoting the career opportunities within the industry at a high level through the national media? Or does the responsibility rest within the government career service providers to present the construction industry as a viable career option to both young male and female students?

The MCS will be tackling the issues around image and highlighting how the industry can approach and resolve these pressing problems through the experience and learnings from the prominent speaker line-up.

By facilitating knowledge exchange and networking with influential regional construction leaders, the Summit provides a platform to strengthen improvements throughout the industry, whilst also creating an opportunity to acquire crucial information from industry experts on how they have overcome key issues, through process, product innovation and enhancing perceptions.

The Summit will deliver insight on how to future proof construction businesses from the issues surrounding Skills, Image and Productivity. These three themes are all intrinsically linked and have a domino effect. A poor image of the industry creates a skills shortage as the young and upcoming generation are seeking more appealing career prospects. Skills shortages add to poor productivity as the industry lacks the workers and resources to keep up with demand.

Entry into the Midlands Construction Summit costs just £95 plus vat and includes; parking, lunch and refreshments throughout.

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