Opinion Former Article

Construction a beacon for social mobility, says CIOB

Study reveals skilled trades and infrastructure catalysts for greater social mobility

A new report published by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) highlights the critical role that construction plays in reversing the declining levels of economic and social mobility in the UK.

The report, Social Mobility and Construction: Building Routes to Opportunity contains a specially commissioned survey of 1,094 working adults. Results show how among the UK industries, construction ranks near the top for social and economic mobility. And while other industries, such as manufacturing, have shed skilled workers, the construction industry maintains a third of all employment in this occupation group. These skilled trades not only provide social status and solid earnings in themselves, but provide many with an opportunity and a platform for progression within their career, from the trades through to management and professional roles.

Commenting on the report, Paul Nash, President of the CIOB said: “Social mobility is fast becoming one of the defining issues of our time. This report highlights the importance of increasing social mobility and how the construction industry can work to promote greater equality of opportunity for all, particularly in a challenging social and economic environment.

Reflecting on his own career, Paul continued: “I joined the construction industry at 18 as a management trainee with a construction company; I went on to gain a post-graduate qualification through advice from my professional body. I now sit here as President of the CIOB. I never thought I’d be in the position I am today but stories such as mine show the quality of opportunity that exists in construction.”

The findings also demonstrate the links between the actual built environment and social mobility: a better built environment, including schools, hospitals, homes and infrastructure, provides greater opportunity for economic and social progression. Essentially the shaping of the built environment plays a big part in how these opportunities are distributed and how they impact on our well-being and life chances.

The report finds makes a list of recommendations for business, industry, professional bodies and government, namely:

Construction businesses
·         Focus on better human resource management
·         Introduce and/or expand mentoring schemes
·         Boost investment in training
·         Develop talent from the trades as potential managers and professionals
·         Engage with the community and local education establishments

·         Rally around social mobility as a collective theme
·         Promote better human resource management and support the effort of businesses
·         Promote and develop the UK as an international hub of construction excellence
·         Support diversity and schemes that widen access to management and the professions
·         Emphasise and spread understanding of the built environment’s impact on social mobility

Professional bodies and institutions
·         Drive the aspirations of Professions for Good for promoting social mobility and diversity
·         Support wider access to the professions and support those from less-privileged backgrounds
·         Promote and develop the UK as an international hub of construction excellence
·         Emphasise and spread understanding of the built environment’s impact on social mobility
·         Provide greater routes for degree-level learning among those working within construction

·         Produce with urgency a plan to boost the UK as an international hub of construction excellence, as a core part of the Industrial Strategy
·         Provide greater funding to support the travel costs of apprentices
·         Support wider access to the professions and support those from less-privileged backgrounds
·         Place greater weight in project appraisal on the impact the built environment has on social mobility

The report is being formally launched at an event in the House of Commons later today. A full copy of the report is available at: https://policy.ciob.org/research


The Chartered Institute of Building is at the heart of a management career in construction.

We are the world's largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership.  We have a Royal Charter to promote the science and practice of building and construction for the benefit of society, and we’ve been doing that since 1834. Our members work worldwide in the development, conservation and improvement of the built environment.
We accredit university degrees, educational courses and training. Our professional and vocational qualifications are a mark of the highest levels of competence and professionalism, providing assurance to clients and other professionals procuring built assets.
Further information is available by contacting Saul Townsend on stownsend@ciob.org.uk or +44 (0) 1344 630 766.

*To unsubscribe from the CIOB’s press distribution service please reply to this email with the word ‘REMOVE’ in the subject field.

David Barnes MCIPR
Research, Communications & Policy Officer
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
t: +44 (0)1344 630 881
e: dbarnes@ciob.org.uk w: http://policy.ciob.org t: @CIOBPolicy

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