Spec Finish

Feature Russell Haworth , CEO at NBS and UK CEO at Byggfakta Group, discusses a shift in the landscape and how young people are open to the idea of construction as a long-term occupation. THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT 12 www.thefis.org P ERSUADING young people to choose a career in construction has been a difficult process. Unfortunately, stubborn misconceptions – mainly that the industry is dull, dangerous and dirty have hampered recruitment efforts, creating a shortage of skills and a greying workforce. Yet recently, the landscape has shifted and for the first time in a long time, young people are open to the idea of construction as a long-term occupation. In a recent study, NBS found that more than half of 18-24-year-olds (56%) now see construction as an ‘attractive’ career option 1 . A further positive is that around half of the women surveyed are keen to join the industry, with a fifth very keen. If we play this right, it could open up a whole host of opportunities, particularly for the finishes and interiors sector, building upon its 280,000 strong UK workforce worth £10 billion annually. With a broad scope to join one of the most dynamic areas of construction, we can show young workers how to transform structures into ‘wow-factor’ buildings, leaving a positive mark on the world around them. So, how do we get the next generation on board? Future building through digital means The past few years have been huge for construction in terms of its rate of digital adoption. As one of the most under- digitised sectors compared with other major industries, it’s come a long way in a short amount of time. This should not be overlooked and if we’re to appeal to young minds, we need to be loud and proud around this point. We also need more sustained investment in digital platforms, tools and strategies that are already reshaping how we think about construction. By doing so, we can provide even more job opportunities that go beyond conventional construction site roles. Within the interiors sector, there’s already an increasing demand for designers, Building Information Modellers, Project Managers and an array of IT roles that can support the construction process in different ways. Many of these roles are also providing solutions to some of the industry’s biggest challenges – safety, sustainability and a shortage of staff. With a natural affiliation towards digital technology, we need to play to the strengths of young people. Encouraging diversity Our study also highlighted some long-standing issues with the sector – predominantly that it’s seen as a job for men and not for women. We can see that stereotype still persists – for a third of those not interested in construction, their Russell Haworth, CEO at NBS and UK CEO at Byggfakta Group

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