I’ve been working in and around the construction industry for a number of years, and every year, around this time of year, the sun comes out and everybody gets a little more excited… and worried that we don’t have enough people to fill sites, offices and general staff and operative demand. Despite the concerns, it’s refreshing to hear the overwhelming enthusiasm for the industry we’re in, and with the feel-good factor of the sun being out, what better time to reach out to new people and inspire them with the same passion.
It’s true that summer means longer hours on more sites, busier teams and usually several well-earned team drinks after work on a Friday – what’s not to like? Looking deeper than that, though, you’ll find some very real reasons to come into – and stay in – the construction industry, and whilst I won’t pretend that this is the most inspiring post you’ll ever read (far from it!), I would encourage anyone to share these reasons with anyone connected to or interested in construction.
Pace – it’s fast. Construction is growing fast, and it moves fast. You don’t need the ONS to show you the cranes, scaffolds and new buildings all going up in cities like Liverpool and Manchester and beyond. For good measure, and for those who enjoy the odd stat, the industry is up (again) 2.4% year on year in terms of output, with the top 100 contractors turning over more than £69bn.
Satisfaction – in construction we physically build things. Our sites transform from gravel pits to stunning skyscrapers, our refurbishments go from empty shells to vibrant office space, and our domestic improvement schemes go from run-down asbestos filled apartments to gentrified high quality affordable living space.
Development – it’s an industry that is crying out for skill and for talent, meaning the chance to learn new vocations and skills is at an all-time high. We have an opportunity ahead of us in that a high proportion of the most skilled amongst our workforce are set to leave the industry in the coming years, and through the increasingly present apprenticeship schemes we have a path via which we can impart this knowledge and skill to the future of our industry.
Active workplace – put the above three together out of the construction context and what does it evoke? A city environment? A pacey trudge through a concrete jungle? Over-heating through a tube station, waiting in line to break out of the traps and race to get to the office on time? Put it back into construction and you realise that it’s a job that has visual results, lets you work out in the open, and boasts a flexible, dynamic and social work environment.
Summarise all of the above and you get a real buzz for the industry, without the incessant bustle of a usual graduate or desk job. You see the results of your hard work – whether it be designing as an Architect, costing as an Estimator or Quantity Surveyor, running the show as a Project Manager, keeping everyone in one piece as a Health & Safety Advisor, or on the ground, making the job happen as a tradesperson, labourer or site agent.
I’ve deliberately avoided terms like “skills gap” and “talent shortage” in this piece. Whilst they are very real problems, these catchphrases of today run the risk of becoming one more reason for prospective entrants into our industry to be put off from doing so. Let’s stay away from the negativity around the challenge we face; shout about the great things and great things will happen.
Feel the buzz, fight the bustle...
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