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April 2007

New research reveals the scale of the challenge faced by industry to become a first-choice employer

Positive Image campaign seeks to target under-represented black and ethnic minority groups

Research released today by ConstructionSkills reveals that construction careers still do not feature on parents’ radar as suitable choices for their children. Instead, traditional professions such as ‘doctor’ and ‘teacher’ prevail as first-choice careers in the eyes of UK parents. With parents seeing themselves as the greatest influence on their children, the Positive Influence? research highlights the need for the construction industry to reach out to parents.

Almost three quarters (72%) of the 600 parents questioned by ICM Research felt they had the greatest influence on their children’s career aspirations. This was a long way ahead of careers advisers and teachers, rated as the primary influence by 13% of parents. When parents were asked to rate their preferred career option for their children, civil engineer and construction site manager were chosen as first choices by only 6% and 4% of respondents respectively, compared to doctor as the top choice at 41%.

The research also suggests there may be some disconnect between parents’ perceptions and the reality of working in the construction industry with regard to the specific jobs it offers: in contrast to the low preference for named construction career options, 40% of parents said they would be pleased if their child wanted to work in construction. Furthermore, 60% were unaware that construction is one of the UK’s largest employers with over 87,600 new recruits required each year.

The findings of the Positive Influence? report, launched to coincide with the construction industry’s annual recruitment campaign, mean that the construction industry will have to challenge existing stereotypes of the various occupations within the industry to address the current under-representation of women and ethnic minorities as well as the challenge of attracting sufficient recruits.

To help address the issue of diversity in construction, as well as a more targeted Positive Image campaign, April 2007 also sees the start of a number of new initiatives from ConstructionSkills. These include the arrival of trained diversity advisers who will provide one-to-one support for Black and Asian candidates and their parents, and the creation of new strategic partnerships that will support a diverse construction workforce throughout the training and employment chain.

Other key findings from the Positive Influence? report include:

  • Black or Asian parents are the most concerned about their children’s career choices - 57% say they plan to play a key part in their children’s career decisions, compared to average (39%)
  • Half of black and Asian parents (53%) believe that they have higher expectations of their children than White parents, while 64% believe that their child will need to work harder to succeed, due to their ethnic origin
  • 86% of parents would be proud of a son/daughter wanting to enter a career traditionally dominated by the opposite sex. Black and Asian parents are more likely to be resistant to the idea with over one-third (36%) expressing concern that their child would struggle to fit in
  • A third of parents (33%) claimed that learning a trade would be the most useful career path for their child and a further 15% opted for an entry level position that allows on the job training

Paul Sykes, recruitment manager at ConstructionSkills says:
“The good news is that 40% of parents said they would be pleased if their child wanted to go into the construction industry and 86% would be proud if their child chose a career traditionally dominated by the opposite sex. However, there does seem to be a gap in some parents’ understanding of what the construction industry has to offer and we need to seek to address this. We have a massive skills demand and the industry clearly has some way to go to become a first-choice employer for our graduates and school leavers. To overcome this, we need as diverse a workforce as possible and must work in partnership with employers, teachers, careers advisers and parents to help us achieve this.”

Durkan Group Ltd is one example of a construction company which visibly puts its diversity policy into practice in attracting new recruits. Managing Director, Robert Clark says:
“As well as helping the industry to combat the issue of skills shortages, we have seen countless commercial benefits which are a direct result of having a strong diversity policy. It’s not just policy for policy’s sake but something which is making a real difference to local communities and showing that we are delivering on the ground. Because we have concrete evidence of putting our diversity policy into practice, our clients see us as a responsible business and consequently, our profile is raised among potential new clients.”

For further information please see the full press release and the full Positive Influence? Report.

Regional press releases are available upon request. Please email

To find out more about careers in the construction industry, visit

Skills Update
Read & Register online
Image of construction
Construction Industry Council
CITB Northern Ireland

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