What do you want YOUR child to be?

When I was growing up I seem to recall we all had some ideas about what we wanted to be – and they all revolved around practical things we loved.  There were aspiring carpenters, firemen, vets, teachers, showjumpers, ballet dancers. The world was our oyster, and we couldn’t imagine ever doing something we didn’t passionately love.

Children and their grown up jobs image courtesy of Shutterstock

Children and their grown up jobs image courtesy of Shutterstock

But somehow, somewhere along the way, things start to change. Our aspirations shift; and of course we may decide that the glamorous dustbin men with their awesomely exciting truck that was the pinnacle of our dreams when we were six isn’t still the career for us at 16… but equally how many young people do you know who drift into jobs or further education simply because they don’t know what else to do? Our education system is so geared towards the academic subjects now that those who have a more practical bent often find themselves left to one side in the quest for ever higher grade averages.

And we parents often get caught up in that too; why encourage your child to be a plumber when they could head to the giddy heights of University and the fields of gold that come after?

A recent survey by the NHBC Foundation found that four out of ten parents (42%) say that they would not encourage their children aged 11 or over to pursue a career in the house-building industry.

And yet – why woudn’t we? What’s wrong with being a builder, for goodness sake? It’s one of the UK’s most successful and thriving industries at a time of huge demand for high quality new homes.

It’s poor image of house-building that remains a challenge to recruitment, with less young people than ever entering the building industry – which is simply storing up trouble in the years to come, surely?

When asked about house-building, young people could often identify jobs in the trades such as bricklaying and plumbing but, apart from architecture, were largely unable to identify technical, professional and managerial job areas.

And yet when those same young people – and particularly girls – were given positive, factual information about the wider benefits of house-building, many felt much more interested in considering it as a career.

The research found that the majority of parents believe ‘good pay’ and ‘opportunities for career progression’ are the most important factors for children to have in their career, followed by doing something worthwhile. With the demand for new housing and the fact that over a third of people entering the industry as apprentices reach manager level, it seems like a pretty sound career choice to me. With unprecedented levels of demand for high quality new homes across the UK, the house-building industry is experiencing an acute skills shortage. Recent figures show that there are 20,000 current vacancies across the industry – it feels like now has never been a better time to begin a career in the sector!
And we’re not talking about aiming for a career as a man-with-a-van – people joining the industry have the opportunity to work for some of the most successful companies in the UK (there are currently four major house-building companies listed in the FTSE 100).

Building trades for everyone - image courtesy of Shutterstock

Building trades for everyone – image courtesy of Shutterstock

The new online Lego film from the NHBC Foundation aims to showcase the wide range of career options available to young people and encourages them to visit the Home Building Federation’s comprehensive House-Building Careers online resource.

So next time your teen declares they have no idea what they want to do with their lives, give them a look at the video. It might spur them on into a very successful new direction…

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Laura!

    I found this article very interesting — especially the comment that girls seemed to be as much if not more affected by this information.

    I am actually part of a group of students at Imperial College London who are developing a business idea for a toy that will aim to teach girls STEM skills. We are very passionate about our project, and we hope in the long run to tackle gender parity in certain industries such as the sciences, engineering, archicture, or construction.

    At this stage we really value the input and feedback of parents. If you could spare a minute to fill out our survey and help us start to collect some feedback we would be extremely grateful!


    Similarly, if you think any other parents in your network would be interested in this idea, we would very much appreciate if you could pass this survey along. Details of the business idea and the toy is outlined in the survey itself, but if you have any more questions please do get in touch.

    I hope you have a great week ahead.


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