Construction needs to rethink how it attracts its workforce as war for talent hots up


Construction employers are being encouraged to rethink how they attract their workforce as competition for skilled workers gets more intense.  The industry faces a tough challenge to meet its recruitment needs in a labour market that is running hot and with new CITB research showing that just two per cent of those outside construction see it as their preferred industry to work in. Yet the research also shows that construction could be more successful if it aligned its recruitment approach to values where it scores highly. These include stability & security, the variety of work, the opportunity to have a positive impact and the chance to specialise and become an expert            

The industry also needs to widen its net to recruit the tens of thousands of new workers it needs. Currently, women only make up 14% of the workforce and workers from ethnic minorities just 6%. Fixing this isn’t just about changing the culture, it’s about making the opportunities much more visible and accessible.     

The Rethinking Recruitment research shows that people outside or who have little contact with the industry often have limited knowledge of what construction can offer, while negative perceptions and misconceptions surrounding culture and behaviours persist. The report also found only three-in-ten (30%) outsiders feel construction is ‘for someone like them’. 

However, the Rethinking Recruitment research shows construction has the chance to address these perceptions and appeal to a much wider group.   

The industry is described by those inside as somewhere that offers generous pay, opportunities for progression and a varied working environment.  

‘There will always be opportunities in construction, and that is quite a reassuring thing to have” Female, 22, white, Professional 

Insiders also report it to be diverse, flexible and aligned to their values, but many outside industry are unaware that construction can offer them this. 

Steve Radley, CITB’s Strategy and Policy Director said: “This report is aimed at helping the industry take a fresh look at how it attracts its future workforce. Construction has massive strengths such as the ability to make a positive impact, including its contribution to Net Zero. And it scores highly on the variety of work and the opportunity to specialise, become an expert and progress your career.          

“Construction’s challenge is to bring the knowledge and understanding of insiders to those outside of the industry and to celebrate what is good about it. We need to fire up their enthusiasm and make it the career of choice for thousands more potential new workers. “ 

Informal and word-of-mouth recruitment used by the bulk of construction employers is affecting the industry’s opportunity for creating a more diverse workplace 

If workers without the right personal contacts don’t get a chance to apply, industry misses their talent. 

The research pointed to the benefit from employers highlighting, in recruitment advertising, the values important to them to help candidates identify common ground.   

Other points include using key strengths as identified by insiders in recruitment material, such as the stability of the job and job satisfaction from creating something – making a difference to other people’s lives by building homes – and career progression through training.  

Steve added: “There are some useful conclusions in the report and we hope with the widening skills gap that employers will benefit from these suggestions.  

“Construction has a lot to offer but the message isn’t as yet getting out to those who are looking for a career change or where to start with their career and that needs to change.”  

Other suggestions to improve recruitment outcomes and fix incorrect stereotypes include companies making more of ambassadors – presenting role models from their own workforce and offering site taster days and easier to access work experience.  

Firms are encouraged to link up with CITB’s onsite training hubs and to get in touch with their regional engagement office to take up training opportunities for staff.    You can read the Rethinking Recruitment report here. 


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BDC 317 : Jun 2024