Business

Careers in construction are an untapped treasure trove

Pressure is mounting on the construction industry to bring in fresh talent as new insight shows around 500,000 workers are needed to fill skills gaps.

With a number of large-scale, government-funded infrastructure schemes, such as the National Grid expansion, hanging in the balance, the industry would benefit from casting its recruitment net wider. However, this is not a one-sided tale – construction’s labour shortage presents a significant opportunity for job seekers with experience in different fields too.

In more recent times, the construction industry has come up against a shift away from trade-focused jobs and misconceptions that other fields are greener or more progressive. Despite construction’s rapid development since the pandemic, the industry has struggled to shake stereotypes that its careers are one dimensional and rigid. Whilst this is only part of the skills shortage story, such stigma has contributed to sizeable talent gaps – for instance, in technical and office-based roles. This is furthered by a greater focus on trade-based apprenticeships and lack of awareness about the diverse training opportunities on offer.

Historically, the construction industry has not been self-promotional, but this must change for its evolving workplace and breadth of careers to be recognised by a larger demographic. Unknown to many, numerous construction companies have been part of the hybrid working movement since it took off four years ago and are evolving to better accommodate employee needs as flexible working becomes a bigger priority.

Increasingly, construction companies are also adapting to champion environmental change. Growing public concern for businesses to deliver environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments has encouraged the industry to implement more sustainable practices, from choosing greener supply chains to the materials used. The modern methods of construction (MMC) faction of the industry is paving the way forward in this regard, typically applying lean manufacturing principles to cut waste and lower the embodied and operational emissions associated with end products.

As an industry that’s actions will dictate the sustainability of the built environment, there are an increasing number of construction professions dedicated to propelling greener internal operations and projects. Whilst design and procurement teams play a key role in this, other occupational areas are contributing to sustainable change in construction, such as ESG teams. Although a relatively new department for many companies, ESG in construction covers a broad scope of work and offers a good fit for job seekers who have covered similar disciplines. For instance, environmental engineers will bring a specialist perspective to a company’s environmental ambitions and develop an understanding of social and governance niches in their role.

Construction is a compatible home for other experienced professionals too. Whilst there is a clear synergy between certain roles, such as architectural graduates and designers, less obvious transitions exist, such as building surveyors to estimators or good administrators to document controllers. Managers that have operated in entirely different areas to construction are typically very successful in the industry, bringing fresh perspectives to their work – be that the management of sales teams, projects or procurement.

Technological developments are also opening doors for individuals to participate in driving innovation and creativity in construction. Building Information Modelling (BIM) has transformed the way facilities are designed and constructed, allowing even the most complex of projects to be more cost-efficient and less carbon intensive.

In such a fast-moving industry, there is huge scope for progression. Professions in commercial control for instance can be highly rewarding; whilst those at entry level might initially handle project purchase orders and basic administration tasks, commercial controllers that show aptitude can be readily trained to adopt greater responsibilities, such as managing spending on complex projects.

As the government pushes to drive economic growth through construction, opportunities to build a solid career in the industry are multiplying. With new insight showing that interest is picking up, it’s time for careers in construction to be considered a little closer.

Annelee Roscoe is the ESG and HR director at offsite manufacturer, Premier Modular.

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Careers in construction are an untapped treasure trove