Less than one in ten young people would consider a career in construction, even though more than half are interested in subjects that qualify them for the industry, according to new research by L&Q, one of the UK’s largest housing associations and developers.

L&Q surveyed 1,095 16 to 18-year-olds about their career aspirations, and although around 50 per cent said that they were interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), only nine per cent stated that they would consider a career in housebuilding.

The findings have been revealed as L&Q launches its new schools programme – Learning to Succeed – aimed at increasing the number of young people joining the construction industry by raising awareness of the wide variety of jobs available.

Learning to Succeed is a £1 million programme that will seek to address the sector’s image issues by offering free STEM education lessons and careers advice to 30 schools in 12 London boroughs. L&Q is the first housing association in the country to offer careers advice and assistance of this kind, delivering the programme in partnership with Construction Youth Trust, the construction industry’s youth charity.

Matthew Corbett, director of the L&Q Foundation, said: “Construction isn’t just about hard hats and steel capped boots, it’s also about innovation, technology, great design, communities and placemaking.

“If we’re going to solve our housing crisis, then we need our young people to help – but first we need to increase interest and awareness of the opportunities the industry has to offer.”

Iain Mcilwee, CEO of FIS, said: “A career in construction is fast becoming an unknown unknown or worse a ‘look where you could end up if you don’t work hard!’ This absolutely belies the truth as construction is one of the most exciting global industries to work in at the moment, on the verge of digital disruption, with a wealth of rewarding opportunities, modern apprenticeships enabling you to earn and learn and an opportunity to literally shape the future of the UK.

“We applaud initiatives such as this and we too need to step up as an industry and do all we can to reach into schools and work with colleges. One of the most alarming figures I have seen since starting at FIS is how many people complete a construction related course in college and do not end up working in our sector. This is something our BuildMe programme helps to resolve. We need to get to these individuals before they slip through our fingers. Construction may be second choice to winning the X Factor or that precious Premier League start, but for around one in ten of us in the UK, it provides a varied and exciting career option.”

The CITB estimates that 230,000 new recruits will be needed by 2020 to support construction growth and account for an ageing workforce. The construction industry provides 167 different careers and the built environment is the second biggest employer in the country after the NHS. Around half of all construction careers require degrees in STEM subjects, but this new research reaffirms how construction is perceived as challenging and unexciting by students.

The survey also revealed:

  • Science is the most popular school subject, closely followed by maths.
  • Young people cited concerns that construction wasn’t an exciting field to work in or they thought they wouldn’t be good at it as reasons for their lack of interest.
  • However, for the nine per cent who were interested in construction, the “excitement” of the field was the biggest factor for their interest.
  • Exactly 40 per cent of young people feared they wouldn’t be good at the job. To address this, L&Q is promoting the benefits of apprenticeships where people are paid to learn.

Read the full survey here.