Industry urged to go back to school to win war on talent

CITB Chairman James Wates is calling on employers to get more involved in careers activity in schools, after a report found that careers advice on construction is largely unfavourable, outdated and ill-informed.

The research, ‘Educating the Educators,’ which surveyed over 800 career influencers to find out what they think of construction, stresses the urgent need for industry to work more closely with schools, teachers and careers advisers to dispel the age old stereotype that construction is a hard, dirty manual job for boys.

According to the report, the changing careers advisory landscape, which has seen a sharp reduction in the face-to-face offering for pupils, is struggling to provide accurate and detailed information about the industry and its career prospects.

The research findings show:

  • 35% of careers advisers believe that construction is an unattractive career opportunity;
  • 44% of teachers admit to having offered ill-informed careers advice to students;
  • Over 60% of careers advisers in schools offer no information on jobs prospects based on available work
  • Three quarters of the schools visited by Ofsted are not fulfilling their legal duty to provide skills advice.

James Wates, Chairman of CITB, said:

“Our industry has to compete with many others for future talent. That means that we must be in the thoughts and choices of pupils making decisions at school – not as they’re about to leave or have already left.

“We can’t leave this to existing careers advice because we need to reach teachers in order to reach pupils. Teachers need to be made aware of what training and careers Construction has to offer their pupils in order to get our message across.

“We build inspirational icons across the UK and the world – and we build schools, homes and hospitals in local communities. We need to inspire tomorrow’s talent with these achievements and I’m asking employers to be part of setting out our stall. I’d like to see 50 employers visit 50 schools in 2014 to do just this. That sends a powerful message about our industry and about the opportunities that exist within it.”

Responding to the CITB report, Lord Baker, Chairman, the Edge Foundation commented:

“CITB’s research reveals a huge gap in teachers’ knowledge of the construction industry. Sadly, this is linked to the old fashioned stigma that is still associated with vocational pathways. Better links between schools and employers will help tell the story of a fast-moving and exciting industry.

“We also need new pathways from 14 upwards for young people who want to combine core subjects such as English and maths with practical, technical and vocational qualifications in construction and civil engineering. Leading employers are helping here, too, by designing and delivering real-world projects in University Technical Colleges, Studio Schools and Career Colleges across the country.”

One employer already working closely with local schools in an attempt to secure future talent is EDF Energy.

Jennie Chapman, head of partnerships at EDF Energy, said:

“The planned construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point offers huge job opportunities, but also a challenge for us to engage with our potential workforce. We have reached out to 35,000 school students around Somerset through a variety of exciting activities in our ‘Inspire’ education programme as well as tailoring specific events to appeal to female students.

“The results have been very encouraging, with many examples of students thinking again – or for the first time – about a career in construction, engineering or science. I would strongly encourage others to support the CITB’s call to invest in encouraging the construction workers of the future.”

Get involved

The CITB careers team is offering to help any employers willing to get involved. They are on hand to work directly with construction companies to arrange events, talks, field trips, mentoring programmes or work experience.

CITB has recently established a partnership with DWP to promote construction careers and an agreement with the National Careers Service which will further join up efforts to promote construction careers.

The report outlines some other ways that industry can help promote careers to include:

  • Step up support for the CITB Construction Ambassador Programmes of industry role models to provide information on construction careers in schools
  • Boost the CITB website with Career Case Studies and video diaries including details of career progression, roles using new technologies or driving greener construction
  • Represent the sector at major careers and recruitment events to promote the wide range of careers available
  • Join forces with supply chains, federations, training groups and professional institutions to support local careers events.

For more information on how to get involved please contact Lorraine Gregory, lorraine.gregory(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign) or call 07500 105 703

For a full copy of ‘Educating the Educators’ go to