Current statistics from the Construction Industry Training Board, suggest that the industry will grow on average 2.2% between now and 2018 which translates to around 182,000 extra jobs [i]. Clearly the industry will face a significant challenge in meeting this additional recruitment demand over the next four years. So what can companies do to attract talent?
The image that most school and university leavers have of construction jobs is of men on a muddy building site doing jobs that involve a lot of manual labour.
In reality, there are a very wide range of roles available in the industry. Companies looking to recruit talent need to actively demonstrate to young people and other potential recruits the extent to which technology, engineering and innovation play a part in modern construction.
Combating the current negative opinion in our schools and universities is undoubtedly a big task. “Recent research on careers information and guidance by the Construction Industry Training Board shows that 35 percent of careers advisers believe a career in construction is unattractive.” [ii] Companies that are looking to succeed need to be prepared to fully engage with social media and take their web presence seriously from a recruitment perspective in order to begin to change this image, in addition to working directly with careers advisers and young people. Let people really see the diversity of options available to them.
Recruiting More Women
The number of women employed in the construction industry rose by 13.5% between the last three months of 2013 [iii], compared with the same period in previous year. Although this growth of women working in construction is a positive statistic, overall construction still has one of the lowest male to female ratios within the workplace with women accounting for only 11% of the construction workforce and just 1% of workers on site. [iv]
This group represents a huge untapped opportunity for the construction industry and engineering in general. Benefits of including more women in the workforce stretch beyond simply making up numbers. Studies have shown among other things that mixed gender teams work better together than single gender teams.
Increasing the number of women in construction is linked closely to improving the image of the industry and providing good quality support and information. Evidence has shown that many women that do choose a career in engineering already know a family member who works within that field and many girls who don’t know anyone already in engineering do not have that support and information readily available [v].
The mission for WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) is to increase the presence of female employees to 30% by 2020 [vi] - a challenge the construction industry would benefit from accepting.
Good quality applicants look for good quality opportunities in good companies – it makes sense. Part of improving the image of the industry is about improving the job and training opportunities for recruits at all levels of the industry, including those entering at apprentice level and then marketing these opportunities well.
Undoubtedly the challenges facing the industry to recruit and retain staff will be significant over the next four years. The companies that will do well at this, meeting their own needs and those of their customers, will be the companies that take a fresh look at their recruitment activities, and fully consider the issues discussed here.