The Conversation about Construction

The conversation around construction is more important, necessary and topical than ever

With the government pledging to build 1 million homes by 2020 and plans to invest £500bn on innovation and infrastructure by 2021, the conversation around construction is more important, necessary and topical than ever.

The UK construction industry is growing, generating almost £90 billion annually and employing more than 2.93 million people. Considering this accounts for approximately 10% of the working British population, Building 4 Education (B4E) is a highly relevant digital resource, reporting on all aspects of design, construction, refurbishment and facilities maintenance in the education sector.

B4E is a media partner of UK Construction Week; the largest event of its kind in the UK, covering every facet of the interconnecting construction industry from smart technology through to building materials. Taking place at the Birmingham NEC from 10 – 12 October 2017, UK Construction Week consists of nine shows: Timber Expo, Build Show, Civils Expo, Plant & Machinery Live, Energy 2017, Smart Buildings 2017, Surface & Materials Show, HVAC 2017 and Grand Designs Live.

And the timing couldn’t be better - it’s clear that construction is moving towards a new age of innovation and change, especially with topics such as off-site construction, modular and BIM generating so much interest. So, it’s especially important that we spread the word that the construction industry is evolving with the times to meet demand - and UK Construction Week will help to bring the industry together to debate, learn and showcase a diverse range of products and services.

The construction industry remains at the forefront of political debate and public opinion, not least because it appears that construction has an image problem. For those that think construction is an unfashionable industry - these are the perceptions that we need to challenge. CITB data has shown that young people don’t view the construction industry as a career option. While research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Builders (CIOB) shows that in the construction industry, the total number of workers over 60 has increased more than any other age group, whilst the biggest reduction is in the total of workers under 30.

It’s been well documented that there is a skills shortage in the UK construction industry, and this gap can be filled by committing to building the technical, engineering and construction skills of a dynamic, young workforce. It makes sense to utilize the young, especially in an industry that’s evolving with the increasing use of budding technologies, BIM, off-site construction techniques, and green technologies.

Having a dynamic skilled workforce for the future means the industry will have to address the diversity and inclusion agenda. UCAS figures show that, across all universities last year only 450 women were accepted to full-time building degree courses, compared with 2,380 men. Change is happening, however; Coventry University now offer the Ada Lovelace scholarship, funded by Tata Technologies, which encourages women to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. This is slowly changing the image of construction for apprentices, students and graduates who are beginning to see it as a more inclusive sector.

We need to talk about construction. We need to educate young people about the construction industry, to ensure they develop the essential skills required, and build a desire to continue their careers in the industry. And UK Construction Week is the perfect platform by which to learn about the industry together. Now is the time to start the conversation.

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