The construction sector is a major contributor to the UK economy, not only directly through the generation of employment opportunities and its contribution to the national GDP but also indirectly through its linkages to other industries. Despite these positive contributions, the sector suffers from a poor image with preconceptions around how construction firms conduct their business and prejudices about the quality of jobs in construction.
The transformation of construction to a more efficient and digitally driven industry has, for the most part, gone unnoticed by young people who see working in construction as dangerous, dirty and unglamorous. With 182,000 jobs needing to be filled by 2018, the sector faces significant skills shortages unless we can find new ways of getting young people interested in construction. Failure to do so will leave individual companies without the resources needed to meet forecasted demand and the sector in a poor condition to provide the enabling services that are required of it for society and other industries. Stereotypical views of construction won’t be altered overnight but they can be gradually eroded and replaced by new perceptions based on trust-based engagement with local businesses.
NFB Business & Skills is working with members to engage with schools to make students, their careers advisors and their parents/guardians aware of the opportunities and benefits of a career with the industry. Its school engagement programme brings together the federation, its members and industry stakeholders to overcome the challenge of engaging with young people with a number of interlinked initiatives including:
School engagement packs
Working with GoConstruct, the industry web portal dedicated to meeting the skills challenge, the Business & Skills team have put together a bespoke NFB school pack that includes presentations, posters, ice breakers and industry facts and stats for members to use as part of their school engagement programmes.
A collaboration with St Ambrose Barlow RC High School, Class of Your Own and NFB Business & Skills led to the development of our Hotel Underground virtual reality BIM model which, using Oculus rift goggles and Xbox technology, allows young people to “walk through” a building as though they were actually there. This has been a huge hit with young people at skills fairs and we are now able to support members with the technology at their own school programmes.