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NEC BIRMINGHAM   08-10 OCTOBER 2019

A vocation that should be attracting the best and brightest of the next generation

13/11/2018 | By: Ben Pritchard | #Skills

Ben Pritchard

Construction has an image problem. Sadly, too many young people see it as an unappealing place to work, but that doesn’t deter me. I’ll shout from the rooftops and tell anyone who will listen that our industry is a fantastic vocation that should be attracting the best and brightest of the next generation.

I’m proud to have been shortlisted as a #constructionrolemodel as part of UK construction week and the opportunity this will give me over the coming year to share my passion for this industry with others.

I stumbled into construction by chance, graduating with a degree in economics around the time of the financial crash, my career prospects were a lot more limited than when I went to Uni. Although I had grown up in a family of builders, construction had never been at the top of my mind until a summer placement led to a full time role and the rest, as they say, is history.

I found an industry where opportunity is abundant if you are willing to look for it. The opportunity to get involved with exciting projects, the opportunity to develop and implement new technology and the opportunity to make a difference in peoples lives and improve our industry.

When done well and done right, our industry can transform lives for the better.
There aren’t may industries that can offer the breadth of opportunities that construction does. Not only in the role you undertake, but also in the ability to move around the world.

Is there another industry that can give you the opportunity to positively impact the lives of so many people? From the house extension that improves the lives of one family, to the infrastructure projects that transport millions of people, provide clean water, and power our homes?

In an average week I talk more about data, cognitive processes, digital transformation, R&D and economics than I do about bricks and mortar. In part that is the nature of my role at Invennt, but it is where the industry is heading generally.

We might be a bit slow in our progress, but we are embracing industry 4.0, and this is why it is such an exciting time to come into the construction industry and be a part of that change, to make a real difference to the shape of industry and the lives of millions of people.

Our image has been tarnished by misconceptions perpetuated by lazy tropes. What the general public see of construction is not the construction industry we talk about so much amongst each other and within the trade press.

The narrative of wolf whistling, dirty labour intensive jobs and poor pay is not a true reflection of the construction industry that I see every day.
As we progress to a digitally enabled and diverse industry, the opportunity to be involved in projects that make a real difference, that you can be proud to be a part of should be enough to attract the best and brightest.

But we should continue to demystify our industry, help people realise how wanting to be a data scientist gives them opportunities in construction as much as any other, how we require people with coding expertise, with a marketing background, with a skill set much wider than that traditionally sought.

The careers advice I was given in secondary school that I could “count bricks or lay bricks” was far from the truth then, and is even further from the truth now!
We need to speak with one voice when we engage with the general public and the next generation. And speak passionately about the opportunities and sense of pride that construction affords us.

We can do better, and work together for the greater good. We need to cooperate and join forces. Consolidating our outreach initiatives better, to attract young people to our industry and not only to individual orgnaisations. With a larger and better crop of talent wanting to join our industry it will be better for all those involved.

I will continue to highlight the good that our industry does, the fantastic opportunities available and use the platform given to me to share my story and my passion for construction to inspire the next generation to join our industry.

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