Construction plays a major part in the UK economy, as well as providing much-needed housing and infrastructure to the country, but is that how the public sees the industry?

At a time when the construction industry has a shortfall of talent, with an estimated 100,000 workers needed to cope with Britain’s infrastructure construction demands according to the government’s National Infrastructure Plan for Skills report, the findings of the survey perhaps show the gap between public perceptions of the construction industry and the reality.

A YouGov poll of 2,000 members of the public measured perceptions of a number of industries and found that the vast majority would never consider a career in the construction industry, with just 17% saying that they would give it thought. Construction also isn’t seen in a particularly academic light, with 41% of respondents stating that it is one of the sectors least likely to require higher/further education, along with the armed forces and charity work.

So why do so many people avoid the industry? The words and phrases associated with construction may shed some light on this – when questioned, 68% of those surveyed described the work as ‘strenuous’, and 58% saw it as ‘dirty’. Meanwhile, only 11% think the industry is ‘exciting’.

The industry has a number of other image problems to combat, as nearly a quarter of those polled view construction work as creating ‘mess, traffic and inconvenience’. However, the construction industry is the driving force behind the biggest investment into British infrastructure since Victorian times.

The poll was commissioned by Construction United, a coalition of some of the industry’s leading companies and experts, which flies the flag for all of the great things about the sector, while dispelling the myths and outdated perceptions that the public may have about construction.

Mark Tomlin, UK Group sales and marketing director at one of Construction United’s major contributors, SIG Distribution, said: “It’s a shame that a sector as broad and diverse as construction can often be viewed negatively. For the most part the public only really see loud, inconvenient building works rather than seeing essential improvements to our country. One of our central aims is to combat and not only make the industry more proud of the great work it does, but to ensure that the public sees the benefit of new buildings and infrastructure.”

Construction United is calling for all those with a vested interest in the success and image of the industry to come together and join the cause, ensuring that a true picture of the industry emerges. As well as championing the cause throughout the year, the campaign will culminate in a week of awareness-raising events from 17-23 October.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock/ CHAIYA