Insight & Analysis

Press release: Construction needs an image makeover to attract more recruits

Published: May 2023

26th April 2023 – Nearly a quarter of a million extra people are needed in construction by 2027 but outdated perceptions mean it is often overlooked as a career, according to a new report.

The Chartered Institute of Building, CIOB’s The Real Face of Construction survey showed 57 per cent of respondents perceived average annual earnings to be lower than the true figure of £36,000.

CIOB chief executive Caroline Gumble said: “Our survey shows there are big misconceptions around earning potential, job prospects and working conditions.”

In fact, construction is £3,000 above the average annual salary across all sectors at £33,000.

The survey shows while earnings across all sectors rose by 15 per cent between 2012 and 2022, the rise for full-time construction workers was 24 per cent.

“Overly physical” and “dangerous” were among the top three answers respondents selected when asked to describe construction jobs despite more positions being office or site-based.

Ms Gumble added: “This is something the sector needs to work together to address if we’re to bridge the existing worker shortfall that will over time become bigger if nothing is done.”

Parents don’t encourage their children to go into construction

The study showed the sector was often overlooked by individuals exploring job options or changing their career path. Just seven per cent of respondents said they would recommend construction as a career to their children or other young people.

Londoners are most likely to recommend construction careers, 38 per cent, while those in Wales, 20 per cent, are least likely.

“Without construction workers, including those in IT, planning, administration and management, as well as the frontline trades, there can be no new homes or other infrastructure and our economy will grind to a halt,” said Ms Gumble.

Construction is the fourth largest employer in the UK outside of the public sector with 2.1m working in the industry and accounting for six per cent of gross value added to the economy.

The Southeast has the biggest number of construction workers, 381,000, while the east of England has the largest percentage of its total workforce engaged in the sector at 7.9 per cent.

“We want to see construction better represented in schemes to promote STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – careers and vocational qualifications, not just in construction but more widely, given equal esteem with university degrees.

“Construction must be promoted as a sector in which people can make a positive difference, drive sustainability, improve their communities and leave a real legacy.”

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders were aware that staff shortages were a factor in residential and commercial projects being held up.

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