New perspectives on recruitment to the construction industry

A report to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

Pollard E, Gloster R, Mason B, Osbourne E |   | Institute for Employment Studies  | Feb 2022

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The construction industry experiences recruitment difficulties and skills shortages and has a relative lack of workforce diversity. It is therefore considering ways to both increase the volume and the diversity of its talent pipeline. A key aspect of this work focuses on attraction. The industry is looking to increase its attractiveness to potential recruits; those entering the labour market from school, college, or university; older individuals re-entering the labour market; and to those already in the labour market working in other sectors who might consider changing industry and/or career. 

This research, consisting of a research report and technical annexe, gathered the insights from insiders, those working in construction including new entrants; and insights from outsiders, those working or looking for work in other sectors. The outsider group includes those working in sectors traditionally seen as competitors to the construction industry for recruits, such as engineering, manufacturing, and IT and communications. It also includes those working in a much broader pool of sectors, where construction is highly unlikely to have been considered as a potential career option, such as education, health, and social care, hospitality, and retail; some of which have been badly affected by the pandemic, creating challenges for many individuals to find or maintain employment.

The research involved a literature review; an online quantitative survey of 1,366 individuals spread across construction, competitor, and pool sectors and across the UK; and in-depth virtual interviews with 40 new entrants to the construction industry (starting within the past two to three years). Fieldwork took place between December 2020 and February 2021, when England returned to a full national lockdown although the construction industry continued to operate with social distancing measures and other precautions in place.