We were very interested to read a report issued by the charity Employers and Education yesterday, which you can read here: https://www.educationandemployers.org/disconnected/
The report supports our long-held belief that the system in this country does not do enough to encourage young people to make informed choices that lead to a long-term rewarding career in sectors where they have a real opportunity to progress, such as the construction industry.
It states that many young people have only limited careers support from their schools and colleges, but that those who do benefit from good careers advice and multiple careers influence in secondary education have aspirations that are better connected to the labour market. This is something we feel passionate about, and we attend as many secondary school careers events as possible in order to fully inform young people about the opportunities we offer, but it always disappoints us that we rarely see construction industry employers do likewise. Schools, colleges, training providers like ourselves, and employers, all need to work together to ensure there is a system in which young people are given the appropriate information, advice, and guidance in order to find a career that works for them.
The Disconnected report uses the example of arts, culture, entertainment and sport, where it found there were five times as many young people looking to enter those sectors than there were vacancies. In contrast, the demand for new recruits in construction remains high, with an article earlier this month quoting the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors as saying more than 200,000 new skilled workers are required in the industry by the middle of this decade. However, the same article – which you can read here https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/hr-skills-news/construction-industry-workforce-crisis/69856/ – cites a study that found just 10% of young people are interested in a career in construction.
This echoes some of our own frustrations at what is often a disjointed, incoherent system. A couple of years ago we sought funding to provide a course that would help unemployed young people gain their CSCS Card in order for them to take advantage of the need for construction workers. However, we found to our surprise that the Level 1 Health & Safety course required for this did not qualify for funding, but if we were a company providing a Level 1 Badminton Coaching qualification then that would be funded! That is a story that would be hilarious if it wasn’t true, and it is one that means we are unsurprised by the findings of the Disconnected report.
Sectors where demand outweighs supply, such as construction, offer the best opportunities for the chance to progress in a long-term, rewarding career, so why isn’t more encouragement and advice being given to young people who may not be aware of the opportunities the industry has to offer? We will continue to work closely with schools and other signposting agencies, and continue to appeal to construction industry employers to collaborate with us in offering work placement opportunities to our learners. Surely the damning nature of the Disconnected report should act as a wake up call to others in the industry to follow our lead?