Great news this week, post-exam results, new blood is flowing and it's coming our way. It appears that the number of students set to take degrees in construction this September is expected to rise considerably.
University admissions body, UCAS has announced that 7,550 students have been accepted onto undergraduate degrees in architecture, building and planning. This currently represents an eight per cent increase compared to 2014 and, with students still set to be placed through clearing, the numbers may continue to grow.
Professor Jacqui Glass MCIOB of Loughborough University was quoted by Construction Manager as saying:
"The industry is buoyant. 17- and 18-year olds are walking past building sites and seeing changes happen to their localities. Construction has become much more visible."
Over the years, there has been a backlash towards the non-vocational degrees since the tuition fees were introduced and a criticism of the degrees considered softer options like media studies. Construction degrees fell in between the cracks somewhat with traditional engineering courses faring better overall.
Many candidates considering higher qualifications in construction were advised to find apprenticeships rather than invest in university fees in recent times. One of the prime reasons for this was that, during the economic downturn, quantity surveyors, designers and managers were coming out of colleges and universities with the qualifications to begin their careers only to find that the work was not available for them. This resulted in a lot of the talent switching horses to pursue careers that had immediate job opportunities.
Ours is an industry in constant flux. We need bottoms back on seats in the universities to address the skilled labour shortage that still drags on, post-recession, so this week's news is, indeed, good news. The recession is now behind us but its impact still remains and there is still evidence of a skilled labour shortage and that threatens to challenge future growth if it remains unaddressed.
This isn't to say that apprenticeships should be overlooked. More than ever before, it's important for SMEs to nurture and grow their own stream of talent and to develop some sort of viable apprenticeship scheme. We all have a duty to invest in the new generation of individuals who have the potential to make a real difference to our industry and we need to make and honour commitments to that generation in order to protect our own future growth.