Publication - Publication

Building Standards Year of Young People: attracting young people into a career in building standards

Published: 12 Jun 2019
Directorate:
Local Government and Communities Directorate
Part of:
Research, Work and skills
ISBN:
9781787819184

This project investigated why young people are not choosing a career in building standards and looked for ways to encourage them.

72 page PDF

555.2 kB

72 page PDF

555.2 kB

Contents
Building Standards Year of Young People: attracting young people into a career in building standards
4 Careers Awareness, Information and Advice

72 page PDF

555.2 kB

4 Careers Awareness, Information and Advice

During the course of the project, a total of 478 young people in Scotland between the age of 16-26 years participated in an online survey aiming to investigate reasons for the presently low recruitment levels of young people into the building standards profession. More information about the profile of survey respondents can be found in Appendix 4.

4.1. Awareness of the profession

Young people were asked their awareness of 10 different construction-related roles, including Business Standards Surveyor. Levels of awareness are fairly low across the board. In terms of the role of Building Standards Surveyor, just 17% suggest they have a 'good' or 'very good' understanding, compared with 61% who report a 'poor' or 'very poor' understanding (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Knowledge and understanding of construction-related careers

Figure 1: Knowledge and understanding of construction-related careers

Base: 4,700 (multiple options could be selected)

In general, there is a widespread lack of awareness of the building standards profession among 16-18 year olds. Awareness and knowledge increases among 19-21 year olds as well as the 22+ groups, but few feel they have any meaningful or specialist understanding. An analysis across gender leads to similar results. While males rank their knowledge relatively evenly between 'very poor', 'poor' and 'fair', the majority of female respondents rank their knowledge as either 'very poor' or 'poor' and generally are in substantially lower percentiles for 'fair' or 'good' knowledge.

This pattern can also be seen for the profession of Building Surveyor, with most females ranking their knowledge as 'very poor' or 'poor', while it is more evenly spread across, 'good', 'fair', 'poor' and 'very poor' among males. Considering age-groups, 16 and 17-18 year olds generally have 'very poor' or 'poor' knowledge, while the majority of 19-21 year olds as well as 22+ year olds have 'good' or 'very good' knowledge.

Young people were also asked about their likelihood of considering a career in each of the same 10 construction-related disciplines (Figure 2).

The roles respondents suggested they were most likely to consider were:

  • Designer e.g. architectural design (19% extremely or very likely, vs 5% not at all)
  • Engineering e.g. structural, civil or services ((19% extremely or very likely vs 52% not at all)

In contrast, 9% consider themselves either extremely or very likely to consider a career as a Building Standards Surveyor, compared to 69% who state 'not at all'.

Figure 2: Likelihood of respondents considering construction-related careers

Figure 2: Likelihood of respondents considering construction-related careers

Base: 4,615 (multiple options could be selected)

The age group of 16 and 17-18 year olds is very unlikely (74% and 76% respectively) to take up a career in the building standards profession, while the group of 19-21 year olds is divided between 'moderately likely' (37%) and 'not at all likely' (30%). Among the 22+ group, 40% say they are 'not at all likely' to take up the profession, while the numbers of 'moderately likely' (20%) and 'very likely' (23%) are quite even. The survey went on to ask young people about the extent to which they felt they would enjoy various different aspects of a building standards career (Figure 3). The aspects agreed with most include:

  • Developing and leading projects (41% agreeing)
  • Seeking information from clients (36% agreeing)
  • Dealing with a caseload (33% agreeing)
  • Liaising and communicating with members of the public (32%)

The areas of 'inspecting buildings and construction against national regulations' and 'verifying compliance with regulations' are the areas that the highest numbers of respondents disagreed they would enjoy: 52% and 49%, respectively.

Figure 3: Aspects of a building standards career that respondents would enjoy

Figure 3: Aspects of a building standards career that respondents would enjoy

Base: 5116 (multiple options could be selected)

The thirteen young people (attending college or university), followed-up by interview for this project, were all studying a building standards related subject[15] and responded well to the public safety aspect of the description of the profession. A general lack of awareness and promotion of the profession in schools was also confirmed.

On the other hand, expected salary levels and the inspection aspect did not prove to be appealing beyond those studying a related subject. If was felt that this may involve facing difficult communication situations:

"Personally, it does sound interesting, I'm passionate about the safety side of things but I know a lot of people on my course would say it sounds boring - they are more looking at the contracting side of things and are motivated more by the money. I'm aware the building standards side of things has more modest salaries which I think puts people off."

Male university student, studying Building Surveying

"…it is a job where you can't be bothered about people's feelings, the role is basically to find faults!"

Male college student, doing an HNC in Construction Management

As both the job descriptions of the vacancies and career portals emphasise strong communication skills, this factor is of importance for the provision of career information and the formulation of a career engagement strategy.

4.2. Careers information

Interest in building standards related professions is mainly influenced by salary and career prospects, while family advice is also very important

In general terms, all age groups prioritise salaries, career progression, qualifications, skills and knowledge needed as well as working conditions as their career information needs (Figure 4).

Figure 4: The most important factor influencing young peoples' interest in construction-related careers

Figure 4: The most important factor influencing young peoples' interest in construction-related careers

Base: 182

When considering future career options, young people mainly turn to their families and friends

Across all age groups, the majority of young people confirmed that advice from parents/family and friends, followed by open days, career websites and one-on-one coaching are their preferred sources. This pattern was repeated across the gender groups, though female respondents put a higher emphasis on one-on-one coaching than males (Figure 5).

Figure 5: The types of sources used when considering future career options

Figure 5: The types of sources used when considering future career options

Base: 468 (multiple options could be selected)

When considering a career, qualifications needed, skills and knowledge needed and salary are most important for young people

The qualifications and skills needed for a particular career as well as salary offered were considered most important by the respondents. In terms of gender, the results are slightly different, as females prioritise career progression over salary as third most important factor, while males value salary over skills and knowledge (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Types of information young people what to know about jobs

Figure 6: Types of information young people what to know about jobs

Base: 468 (multiple options could be selected)

Preferred information channels are electronic means, Open days and Social Media

Across the age groups, there are only slight differences in the ranking of the top-three career information channels: electronic (e.g. websites, apps, videos etc.), open days followed by social media (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Career information channels preferred by young people

Figure 7: Career information channels preferred by young people

Base: 468 (multiple options could be selected)

Young people want career information that is up to date, detailed and provides real-time information

The different age groups prioritised information that is up to date when accessing information about careers. This pattern is repeated across gender groups, though males put a higher emphasis on a career path being endorsed by industry or a representative body compared to females and the overall respondent age groups (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Most important factors when accessing career information

Figure 8: Most important factors when accessing career information

Base: 468 (multiple options could be selected)

My World of Work and UCAS are the most used careers websites

The Scottish My World of Work and the UK-wide UCAS are the most prevalently used careers websites among young people. The third most-used website is Planit, run by a consortium of Scottish LAs. The LA recruitment website My Job Scotland, where the vacancies for the building standards services are advertised, ranks fourth among the websites used. The LAs interviewed did not report any issues with the My Job Scotland website (Figure 9).

Figure 9: Awareness (1) and use (2) of career websites

Figure 9: Awareness (1) and use (2) of career websites

Base: 1827 (multiple responses were possible)

4.3 Careers advice

The survey of career advisers undertaken for this project confirmed careers talks from industry, real-time information and the information being interactive as the most important aspects of providing career information to young people.

Careers advisers are in agreement with young people that the information most needed on careers is the qualification requirements, as well as whether there are different entry routes into the job (e.g. routes direct from school, college and university).

Furthermore, in the opinion of careers advisers, young people are most interested in the expected/average salaries associated with a job, followed by the qualifications needed.

Experience of career information requests on building standards

Half of the careers advisers said they have previously been asked about careers related to building standards (e.g. surveying, but not specifically building standards) by young people.

The actions taken included:

  • Showing the young person how to find out more using MyWow and other websites.
  • Referring them to web-based sources, looking at both FE and HE entry routes, MA options, and sources of information and vacancies.
  • Discussing with them their level of understanding of the industry, their reasons for wanting to enter the industry, sources of support, where they could gain related work experience.
  • In one case, suggesting the young person speak to a relation who was a building surveyor and look at entry requirements of courses.
  • Arranging work experience at an architect's office.

On the whole, careers advisers suggested they had a fair knowledge of building standards. To improve their own knowledge, they suggested a talk or seminar from employers would be most helpful, as well as liaison with a representative body. However, the findings from the young people's survey suggest that advice from careers professionals has little influence over their interest in a construction-related career. The most important factors being career prospects and salary.

4.4 A career adviser's perspective on career engagement

In the view of careers advisers, essential elements of a strategy for attracting young people in building standards should include:

  • Employers visiting schools and giving careers talks/careers chats
  • Clarity on routes into the profession and pathways
  • Having clarity about what the job involves
  • Personal success stories and case studies
  • Letting Skills Development Scotland and schools know where there are vacancies so they can promote them to young people
  • Making sure career advisers are up to date about industry
  • Emphasising the careers prospects and job satisfaction
  • Linking learning in the classroom to the world of work and highlighting the importance of skills (rather than just qualifications)

The attractiveness of careers talks and face to face interaction are highlighted both by young people and careers advisers contributing to this research. There is evidence to confirm this is a highly effective tool; for example, research suggests that "on average, for each career talk with someone from outside of the school experienced at age 14-15 young people benefited from a 0.8% wage premium when they were 26"[16].

Research conducted in 2014 (and quoted in a relevant 2019 report) also found that young people place a great deal of value on careers talks - 84% of those exposed to 3+ career talks felt it was helpful for them in deciding on a career, followed by mentoring (78%) and work experience (58%)[17].


Contact

Email: sarah.waugh@gov.scot