It’s not about the money: Construction’s ‘Generation Thumb’ want a whole lot more

Construction SkillsThe construction industry’s future employees are highly ambitious, clued-up and are keen to quickly climb the career ladder, according to the findings of a CITB-ConstructionSkills’ survey hosted on its youth website ‘bconstructive’ last month.

 Those born after 1985, nicknamed “Generation Thumb” because of their renowned enthusiasm for texting and gaming, cited ‘the opportunity to become your own boss’ as the most appealing factor about working in construction. This was followed closely by the variety offered by working on different projects and the opportunity to become a master craftsman in a specialist area. Surprisingly, the potential financial rewards were low down the priority listing for youngsters but the majority thought that earnings in construction were about the same (41%) or higher (35%) than other careers.

When choosing an organisation to work for, the respondents cited a company’s ‘commitment to training and development’ as the most important consideration. This was almost matched by the organisation’s ‘reputation as a fair employer’. However, a company’s size, location, reward package and its commitment to the green agenda were not rated highly in the pecking order.

‘Teamwork’ topped the poll as the aptitude, ability or skill the participants thought most useful to bring to the industry. Project management and organisational skills however, were not rated highly with most reckoning that technical ability, confidence and physical fitness were of more value to a prospective employer. The gaming generation also placed ‘hand to eye co-ordination skills/good motor skills’ higher in the skills stakes than people skills.

Commenting on the survey, Janette Welton-Pai, Sector Strategy Manager for Careers at CITB-ConstructionSkills said: “It’s clear from the survey that young people interested in construction are driven, ambitious and ready for tough challenges. This is exactly what construction needs – quality candidates who are keen to raise the bar and meet the future needs of an ever changing industry.Construction Skills

“As an industry we need to pay close attention to the expectations and asks around training and development. Opportunities for up-skilling and continuous improvement must be an integral part of our sector’s offering or we risk losing talented youngsters who will bring their skills and energy elsewhere.”

Other survey findings include:

–       Three quarters of respondents (76%) thought that 20 – 30% of the construction workforce were female. According to latest stats women make up only 13% of the workforce, 12% in non-manual positions and just under1% in manual roles although the industry is actively trying to raise awareness of opportunities for females in the sector.

–       The qualification or training most associated with construction were Apprenticeship, BTEC Diploma, NVQ / Diploma.

–       Over half (52%) thought apprenticeships was the most important way to help secure a career in the industry. Only 1 in 10 thought higher qualifications such as a Postgraduate Qualification or a Higher National Diploma were important to getting into the industry.

The Generation Thumb survey was conducted as part of the CITB-ConstuctionSkills’ Positive Image campaign which has been working on behalf of industry to attract new blood into the sector.

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