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I blame the parents

Parents, to their offspring blind,
Consult nor parts, nor turn of mind;
But, ev’n in infancy, decree
What this, what t’other son shall be.

Apparently it’s all our fault. By which I mean those of us who are parents.

A new survey says that we are simply not doing our bit to encourage our offspring to take up careers in housebuilding. New research by the NHBC Foundation found that four out of ten parents say that they would not encourage their children aged 11 or over to pursue a career in the house-building industry. 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 (60% say this for each), followed by doing something worthwhile (51%).

A ComRes poll of 1,064 parents found that parents could do more to encourage their children to pursue a career in the house-building industry. 29% of parents said they would not be likely to encourage children under 10 into the house-building industry. But this increases to 42% once their children are aged 11 or over – showing a marked shift in attitudes from parents as their children get closer to the age when they decide on a career path.

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.

But when young people – 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.

I suspect that the lack of encouragement is even more marked when it comes too encouraging youngsters to become builders merchants. Which is why the BMF recruitment campaign is all the more vital. Of course, this links into one of my bug-bears, the fact that people ‘out there’ don’t always know what a builders merchant does unless they happen to be one. Or be the off-spring of one.

To get over this dislinclination for parents to push their children into housebuilding, the NHBC Foundation, has launched a new online Lego film aimed directly at young people to highlight the many benefits of a career in house-building.

Well, using Lego is a pretty good communication tool for 9yr olds in my experience but I don’t know many parents who would quash the “I want to be an astronaut/vet/train driver/princess” dreams with “don’t be silly Gerald/Norma. You should be a housebuilder or a builders merchant instead. Much better prospects.”

And while I’d have no qualms about promoting the industry to my own offspring in due course, as they currently want to be an Olympic gymnast and a professional rugby player, I think I’ll leave them with those dreams for a little longer.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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