Construction – does it have a future?

There’s a lot of talk about at the moment about the future of the construction industry. Unsurprisingly, this debate has been on holiday for the last 5 years, but construction is back in the news again – big time.

Gavin Tadman Joint MD

Gavin Tadman09.04.2014

But it always tends to be led by the housebuilding industry, tied to the rise in property prices being responsible for kick starting the economy.

So, unsurprisingly, if you were to ask the general population about the construction industry, their reference points would be housebuilding, dodgy plumbers and the work ethic of Polish builders. But, is this a fair representation of the wider construction industry with NVQ’s and diplomas for electricians and plumbers through to the more qualified engineers, architects and surveyors?

You and I know that it’s not, as we’re both in the industry. But is it an industry you’re proud to work in? Did you stumble into it, or was it part of your plan? Would you recommend it to your friends? If you have kids, would you encourage them to look further into the opportunities?

I doubt it, as the building industry is seen as the refuge for the unskilled and low achievers. Therefore, no wonder it has a poor reputation.

Collectively, we work in this industry, so we know it is more diverse than this. From my own point of view I see construction as the most innovative of all the industries, driven by new technology and innovation, no more so than with the challenges of increasingly efficient buildings, pushing product manufacturers, designers and engineers to their limits. Where would we be as an agency only dealing in construction if product manufacturers weren’t constantly challenging the needs of their customers?

So, for an industry that employs 10% of the UK workforce and contributes almost £90 billion to the UK economy each year, why is it that it has such a poor standing in the mind of the population and more importantly the young prospecting for their future career?

Some of you may have attended the CPA lunch in November of last year, when Wayne Hemmingway issued a wake up call to the industry to get its act together. He challenged the industry to work harder to make itself more attractive to the young, stating that it had failed to communicate in the modern world.

In his speech, Wayne referenced the various industries attempts to market itself, shaming the CPA’s Facebook page with its 17 likes and the CITB website looking like it had been designed by your granddad. He then went on to reference how public bodies can engage with the young by referencing the Dumb Ways to Die, public service announcement campaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne, to promote rail safety. The campaign video went viral through sharing and social media starting in November 2012. It went on to win seven Webby Awards in 2013 including the Best Animation Film & Video and Best Public Service & Activism (Social Content & Marketing). If you haven’t seen it have a look here (at the time of writing over 77 million views).

In his speech, he went on to rubbish campaigns by agencies in our sector, picking very unfairly on a campaign that had embraced modern methods in the use animations. It was at this point that I think he really lost his audience, as it showed he hadn’t done any real research into the industry, as there are some good campaigns out there, challenging what has gone before.

But he was there to make a point - time for the industry to wake up - market yourself in a more positive light - engage with the young in terms they will access and understand. On my part, I would push more of the Grand Designs style programming, less of the Britain’s Dodgiest Plumbers hidden camera hatchet jobs that only reinforce the stereotype. Put The Men Who Built Britain on the national curriculum (ask yourself, if you’re in the industry did you watch this programme?)

With the CPA lunch coming up shortly, has the industry listened?

With the arrival of this promoted tweet from @citb_careers, it might just be starting to:

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