Young people would consider construction career if good advice was available

Bailey Holland-Knightly, Redrow painter and decorator.

Most young people would now consider applying for an apprenticeship, and the majority of parents have discussed an apprenticeship role with their child, according to housebuilder Redrow’s latest annual report on perceptions of apprenticeships and careers in construction.

However, the report found that just 22% of young people are receiving high-quality careers advice at school, and that young people based in London and the north-east are significantly more likely to have discussed a career in construction at school.

The report also found that 52% of 16-21-year-olds have never given a career in construction any consideration – the highest in four years. However, 59% of Redrow apprentices believe there is no stigma associated with their role as a housebuilding apprentice – the highest number since the survey began.

Now in its fourth year, Redrow’s report analyses the barriers to entry-level recruitment into the construction and the housebuilding sector, as well as Redrow’s recommendations to overcome these. 

Redrow once again canvassed 2,000 parents and young people, as well as over 100 of its own apprentices, and benchmarked the findings against previous years.

The results reveal that, although misconceptions about construction roles remain, they are improving. Fewer young people (44%) and parents (48%) now believe a career in construction is dominated by men, compared with previous years. Also, fewer young people believe that a career in construction involves mainly manual labour (40%). 

However, the number of young people considering a career in construction is at its worst for four years (48%), due to inadequate advice offered in schools and parent’s misconceptions, which then inform careers-focused discussions with their children.  

Overall, says the report, young people are receiving inadequate advice in the classroom. When asked, only 22% stated that they had received high-quality information and advice on a wide range of careers at school and feel well-guided and, this year, more young people than ever before said that the advice they received was either non-existent or entirely not useful (14%).

Parents are the number one influence on their child's early career decisions, but they are still lacking the appropriate knowledge to provide careers advice. When asked, 60% of parents stated that they had never discussed the prospect of undertaking a career in construction with their child. This is 12 percentage points higher than last year (48%).

Differences also emerged when examining the annual income of parents. Households with an income less than £35,000 and more than £100,000 were far less likely to have discussed construction careers than households earning between £35,000 to £75,000.

However, when it comes to apprenticeships in general, parents are, in many cases, happy to support their child. A significant proportion (70%) stated that they have discussed the prospect of undertaking an apprenticeship with their child – this rises to 77% in London, and 76% in Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

Karen Jones, HR director at Redrow, said: “The challenge of attracting a new generation of talent is a topic all too familiar to the construction industry. This is fuelled by uncertainty around access to skilled labour from the EU following Brexit and the difficulties of replacing an ageing workforce. Against this backdrop, building in Britain is set to ramp up. Boris Johnson’s majority government has earmarked tens of billions of pounds for infrastructure spending over the next five years – including at least one million new homes, roadbuilding and improvements and major rail projects. However, none of this will be possible without the manpower to deliver.

“While it is fantastic to see there is now vast appetite for apprenticeship roles, we still have a job to do to encourage young people into construction roles. Changing perceptions and educating both children and parents plays a major role in shifting the status quo. It requires a more joined-up approach which engages with young people across the country, to promote accurate perceptions of what careers in construction involve and their benefits.”

Click here to download Redrow’s full report.

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