The NHBC Foundation is calling for a new industry-wide campaign to boost the numbers of young women in house building, as new research reveals that just one in ten are interested in building and construction careers.

New research by the NHBC Foundation reveals that while a third of young men (37%) are interested in building and construction, only one in ten young women (11%) are interested, the lowest level of interest of any other job sector included in the study.

The organisation has pledged its support for UK Employment Minister Esther McVey’s #notjustforboys campaign encouraging more women to consider careers in male-dominated industries.  

It is now planning to host a summit of leading industry representatives to discuss next steps to recruiting more young women.

The research found that the UK house-building industry needs to challenge misconceptions if it is to attract and recruit young people. 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 professional careers.

It found that the poor image of house building remains a challenge to recruitment with more than a quarter of young people citing it as a barrier. Other issues relate to a lack of information about careers and a perceived abscess of professional opportunities. 

When young people were given positive, factual information about the wider benefits of house building, many felt much more interested in considering it as a career. This was backed by a survey of young people who have already been recruited into the industry, which found that 94% were positive about the information they received about the job before they started.

The NHBC Foundation report 'A career of choice: attracting talented young people into house building' contains a number of key recommendations for the industry. These include:

  • The industry should prioritise the promotion of the careers available in house building, explaining the range of practical, technical, managerial and business improvement opportunities.
  • To counter the concern that house building may not provide career structures and may be a dead-end choice, the industry should, whenever possible, stress its flexible career paths.
  • The industry should encourage the development of new positive narrative on the wider benefits of house building.
  • More work is needed to promoter and champion the professional careers in house building.  The report suggests that a campaign to encourage greater awareness of the technical and design career opportunities might resonate strongly with young women.

Mike Quinton, NHBC’s chief executive officer, said: “House building provides exciting, varied and rewarding careers.  We want to see more young people – including girls – actively considering a career in our industry to ensure we have a strong and balanced workforce to build the homes our country so desperately needs.

“Our research shows that just one in ten girls would consider a career in building and construction. However, if as an industry we do more to promote and champion the benefits, and challenge the misconceptions, then there are many roles in house building that are appealing to both young men and women.

“People often connect house building with hard physical work performed in all weathers. In reality, there’s a wide range of careers in house building that offer great career prospects, but many people are simply not aware of the interesting roles that exist.”