Working together to tackle the UK’s skills shortage

According to the Construction Industry Training Board, over 250,000 extra workers are needed in the industry by 2028 in order to meet the expected levels of work in the UK.
Without attracting more skilled people, the country can’t improve its health and education infrastructure, make its buildings more sustainable, or solve the housing crisis. So why does construction have an image problem?

One of the issues is that people aren’t aware of the variety of skilled and interesting jobs available throughout the industry. People are generally aware of the valuable role bricklayers, groundworkers, joiners and tradespeople play. But from quantity surveyors who play an essential role in keeping projects on track and on budget, to digital designers who create detailed 3D computer models of buildings, the construction industry also has a huge range of lesser known jobs that require science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.

If you think about careers in STEM, you’re probably picturing a scientist in a lab coat, a computer programmer, or a doctor. But the construction industry is also part of STEM, with hundreds of career possibilities using STEM skills on offer.

As ambassadors for the industry, we’ve been getting out and about speaking to young people to encourage them to consider careers in construction as a way to utilise their passion for STEM.

We’ve created STEM toolkits, which showcase some of the ways you can use your STEM skills within construction. Designed to link to curriculum subjects, there are five separate toolkits, all linked around green skills, which cover engineering, environmental sciences, geography, maths and physics. Delivered by Sewell Construction staff, they give students a task linked to that subject – for example, adapting a business to the changing environment and providing flood resilience, or increasing a building’s energy efficiency by looking at the heat transfer properties of different insulation materials. The students discover how they can apply STEM-subject specific knowledge to construction problems, highlighting the variety of interesting roles available in the industry.

Sewell Construction’s Assistant Design Manager Amie Mangham was involved in creating the toolkit, and said that she would have loved to have had industry-specific teaching when she was at school.

“When I was growing up, I never considered a career in construction because I didn’t think there’d be a role which would suit my skills. It wasn’t until I started working in the industry that I realised what a diversity of skills and roles there were, and that the stereotypical view of what was involved in working in construction was so outdated. Today, there are opportunities for a wide range of talents, from design to project management, and sustainability to technology. This is why I’m passionate about inspiring students and showing the vast array of careers in construction students may not have considered.”

As well as the STEM toolkit, three of our construction staff are now officially STEM Ambassadors, having undergone the Go Construct STEM Ambassador training by STEM Learning. Having partnered with CITB for this particular training course, STEM Learning has been running their ambassador training for over 20 years, and have trained over 28,000 people so that they are equipped to deliver high quality STEM sessions in schools.

If you work with young people and you’d be interested in teaming up with us to open up their eyes to the possibilities of careers in construction, please get in touch.