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Careers advice key to averting £90Bn GDP crisis, says Kier

A newly published report – commissioned by the construction and services giant, Kier – has shown that parents have “significant concerns” over the quality of careers advice on offer to secondary school pupils.

The research – entitled ‘Averting a £90Bn GDP crisis: A report on the image and recruitment crisis facing the built environment’ – polled 2,000 secondary school teachers, careers advisers and parents.

Overall, 74% of survey respondents felt careers advice was bias towards academic routes, while 68% of parents said their children hadn’t receive enough guidance to make an informed decision.

Curiously, 90% of teachers surveyed said they were unaware of the unprecedented scale of the construction skills shortage, while 41% were oblivious to the issue entirely.

Furthermore, 54% of teachers and parents felt there was a lack of career progression in construction. Many still associate the industry with mud, manual labour and machismo, thanks in part to some pretty outdated perceptions.

Obviously, there is an image problem at work here. Pupils and parents are unaware of the career opportunities at hand, and the construction industry’s desperate need to take on 400,000 new recruits each year – in step with growing housing and infrastructure demand. For Kier, it is ultimately about averting a £90Bn UK GDP crisis.

Now, with the much-publicised skills shortage in mind, the contractor is calling on industry and government alike to reject old-fashioned attitudes to construction and give secondary school pupils a fuller picture of what’s on offer.

“With an ageing workforce, uncertainty around Brexit and an ambitious pipeline of construction, housing and wider infrastructure projects, which equates to £90Bn of UK GDP delivery and creates a demand for circa 400,000 new recruits per annum, it is imperative that we attract new talent into our industry,” said Haydn Mursell, Chief Executive of Kier.

“We have invested in comprehensive resources to train and develop new talent, we offer a vast array of roles, great scope and support for diversity and career progression, and we offer the chance to leave a lasting legacy and make a real contribution to local communities, as well as UK GDP. But we also have an image crisis, based on out of date perceptions and advice. We cannot leave this to schools, councils or the government alone to resolve. Business is best placed to explain itself, its employment offering and its skills and training needs.

“For this reason we are pledging a minimum of 1% of our workforce as Career Ambassadors to work with schools and colleges across the UK, to engage with at least 10,000 pupils over the next 12 months.

“If every company in the FTSE 250 and FTSE 100 followed the 1% pledge as part of their commitment to employment and skills, we could create a powerful network of real world advisers, to inform and inspire the next generation.”

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