The International Conference on Business & Technology Transfer
Online ISSN : 2433-295X
Print ISSN : 1347-8834
ISSN-L : 1347-8834
Session ID : 31
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SKILL-SHORTAGES IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY: High School Students’ Perceptions of a Career in the Industry
Hugo M.Samwinga V.Butt T. E.
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The Construction industry is one of the four key sectors of the UK economy. Furthermore, construction is one of the most multi- and inter-disciplinary. Yet, one of the greatest challenges that the industry faces is skill-shortages. One crucial aspect is that there is a serious lack of young persons, entering the industry for their career. This study investigates this problem from different angles to paint an overall picture of what the high school students think of a career in the industry.

A detailed review of the up-to-date literature is conducted to compile latest facts, not only to be employed as a benchmark but also to inform the survey/questionnaire design, which targeted 14-19 year olds in secondary school and Sixth Form. The questionnaire has a mix of both quantitative and qualitative aspects. In total 138 responses were received. Both descriptive and inferential statistics, such as Chi-square tests, were applied in the data analysis.

The results reveal that young people in high school have largely negative views of careers in construction, which can well be one of the biggest reasons for the growing skill-shortages in the industry. The Chi-square test discovered an association between gender and construction image as well as gender and consideration of career in construction. In terms of gender divide, relatively, males viewed the industry more positively than females.

Surprisingly, ‘YouTuber’ was found to be the most popular career choice amongst high school students, closely followed by ‘sports person’ and ‘teaching’. ‘Building trade’ was selected only 8 times out of the 138 responses. The study also observed that social media surpassed conventional means, including family, for career information sources.

Based on the aforesaid findings, the study also formulates recommendations on how the industry can promote itself more effectively to attract new entrants (especially the school-going youth) to seek careers in the industry. The study establishes that the Construction industry image is a major contributing factor deterring the high school students from seeking careers in construction as the respondents describe the industry to be ‘dirty’ and ‘boring’. The high school respondents believe that work-experience days would be the most effective promotion method as well as media campaigns and increased social media presence. Therefore, the study strongly recommends greater engagement with young people through social media, especially females, and provision of workexperience days for the school students to help them learn more about the industry at early stage. Such factors need to be incorporated in government and industry strategies for dealing with the skill-shortages in the Construction industry.

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