New housing and future construction skills: report

Independent Short Life Working Group report considering new and future housing construction skills and adapting and modernising for growth.

Chapter 8: Attracting Future Workforce

The future delivery of new housing will be highly dependent on attracting the next generation of entrants and diversifying the workforce. In addition, promoting and engaging with other industry sectors, which may have a reduction in future workforce requirements due to technological change or artificial intelligence (AI) impacts, may provide additional entrants with alternative and applied skills. Given the increased levels of housebuilding required across Scotland and future construction technologies, digital applications, smart buildings and offsite systems there is an opportunity for the whole sector to attract a wider and more diverse portfolio of entrants due to the range of job and career opportunities. Due to the range of future technologies the sector may adopt the ongoing engagement via STEM Hub Partnerships and events will be important to maintain and also likely require to be increased.

Gender balance has been improving in some of the university graduate profession level sectors for the industry, from 14% in 2015 to 18% 2018 [33]. More recently industry’s direct involvement with graduate apprenticeships has provided an opportunity for companies to commence in year one, as opposed to waiting four years later nearer graduation, to diversify their workforce and new trainee entrants. Some new GA routes have an average of 25% female enrolments [33]. These changes have been helped by industry and universities outreach to schools where female ambassadors in the sector have provided role model routes to attract new entrants.

However, for modern apprenticeships the take up has been less than 2% [34]. Future promotion into schools by female role models who are involved in site skills, logistics, management operations and offsite construction is likely to help the sector. Offsite construction has been cited by others [35] as an area where the sector workforce has an opportunity to increase diversity. The future Construction Scotland Inspire program could provide a Scotland wide platform to support and align to such outreach.

From discussions and meetings with school teachers and parents of children in secondary schools during the SLWG period, it became clear that many were unaware of the salary levels being offered by the sector for craft skills and also the shift towards offsite and clean-tech technologies. This suggests the industry as a whole needs to ‘raise the game’ for outreach in informing schools, parents, pupils and wider society.

Early intervention in secondary school years S1 and S2 can also support pupils to understand the subject choices and help them shape future career options and sector employment opportunities. Provision of taster sessions, of the varying types of job roles, can help start the pathway for young people to consider their future career paths in the sector.

Primary schools can play a critical role in ‘planting the seed’ of the types of career and job opportunities the sector can provide. Early interventions and outreach, for example ‘budding engineers’ can provide problem solving activities and ‘fun’ introductions to construction and technical design softwares. Industry, FE and HE engagement in secondary schools via ‘design-engineer-construct‘, ‘constructionarium’, ‘women in engineering’ and the ‘Inspire’ programme provide opportunities for pupils to hear about the sector, careers, build physical models and apply many of the subjects they are learning in schools into ‘real life’ problem solving aspects. Feedback from school teachers and outreach trainers identified early outreach interventions and taster sessions as a positive approach to supporting future entrants to the sector. However, such outreach activities are quite sporadic, currently not interlinked and some do not have dedicated funding or delivery frameworks. This may lead to patchwork interventions in parts of Scotland and not have security of continuity.

To maximise the reach for both urban and rural areas it is suggested that such programmes and others should receive dedicated outreach funding to provide continuity and Scotland wide opportunities to attract the future diverse talent pool required. Through such funding and linking with Developing Young Workforce, MWOW and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) there is an opportunity to reach many more schools and provide a cohesive learner journey approach. This could be overseen by the Construction Scotland industry leadership skills group and be led by SDS.

In recent years the industry has modified the images used in documents, advertising and media to help diversify its image and the opportunities. However, the industry must continue to update its media engagement, profile and key information if it wishes to compete against other industry sectors. In particular the sector needs to engage more through social media promoting the jobs, salaries, clean-tech and opportunities if it is to improve its reach with younger people and sufficiently compete with non-construction sectors.

The industry should promote better the international opportunities and skills transfer which working in the sector provides. Whilst this may create some intermittent small gaps in workforce, as some spend time periods abroad, it is a feature other industry sectors promote, which does not appear to negatively impact on their supply.


R.8.1 Promotion of future pipeline of activity and investment in sector and future job opportunities.

R.8.2 Improving gender balance, inclusive growth and diversity of workforce the sector should use a range of ambassadors and role models to demonstrate the various careers and opportunities.

R.8.3 Increase promotion of the sector, salaries and career pathway prospects through social media and schools.

R.8.4 Increase support for early years outreach to primary and secondary years S1 to S4 such as via the future Construction Scotland "Inspire program".  Engage and support with dedicated funding through local delivery partnering or sub-contracting with existing outreach programmes to maximise the geographic reach and number of schools involved. Such programmes should be linked with DYW and SDS to provide a cohesive approach. This should include skills taster sessions and engagement with training workshops where available.

R.8.5 Ensure development of media, articles and images used by industry to attract future entrants are aligned to supporting wider gender balance aims supporting diversity and inclusive growth.

R.8.6 Explaining and promoting the new clean tech, multi-discipline, construction technology and engineering careers which are possible and the international work opportunities.

R.8.7 Attracting skills transfer from non-construction sectors, bringing new attributes for future skills and technology needs for construction.



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