The Q1 2018: RICS UK Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey reveals: 

‘The lack of sufficiently skilled workers remains an obstacle for many businesses, particularly with regard to professional services such as quantity surveying. Labour shortages remain at elevated levels after having eased throughout 2016 with 60% of contributors in Q1 citing this as an impediment to growth. Indeed, the share of respondents reporting the insufficient availability of quantity surveyors was the highest in ten years’

To find out more on what NACWL can do to encourage youngsters to train in the construction industry, we thought we would interview our very own Trainee Quantity Surveyor Jon Silavant on what made him choose this industry.

Name: Jon Silavant
Job title: Trainee Quantity Surveyor
Organisation: NA Curtain Walling

What encouraged you to pursue a career in the construction industry?

I actually completed a masters degree in Sport and had not heard of any construction jobs apart from being a labourer or a bricklayer. When I struggled to find the right job in the Health and Fitness industry I started looking at other career paths. I was encouraged by a family member who was already in the construction industry to look at the opportunities this industry could offer me. Working on projects around the UK and the possibility to work abroad definitely encouraged me to apply for a QS position.’

What attracted you to the role of a Quantity Surveyor?

‘I never thought about the construction industry before I got the opportunity to work for NACWL. After researching the role of a QS, I was intrigued by the prospect of working on exciting projects and after seeing some  impressive buildings be constructed around the world I couldn’t wait to get started.’

Has it been hard trying to pursue this career?

‘I have been a Trainee QS for 2 and a half years now and at the beginning of my time, I must admit I did struggle…..I didn’t have any experience or knowledge of the industry but NACWL has really helped me to find my feet. The company is full of great people who are always willing to stop what they’re doing to help and offer guidance, it hasn’t taken me long to settle in here.’

What subjects did you study at school/college/university?

‘I left school with 10 GCSEs including PE, IT, German, Maths, English and Science. At college, I studied A-level Maths, IT, Psychology and PE. I then went onto Portsmouth University to study Sports Development. I started NACWL on a provisional probation to see if it was the right job for me, but I have not looked back as I love it!  I have a day release to college every Wednesday where I have completed an HNC in the Build Environment and Construction and now I am completing an HND in Built Environment.
Ever since I have been with NACWL I haven’t given another thought to working within the sports sector and have been fully focused on a new path as a QS. Going back to college was an easy choice for me as it aids my development at work and broadens my knowledge and understanding of this industry.
Being part of a great commercial team which boasts a wealth of knowledge has allowed me to grow quickly in confidence.’

Tell us about your week, what does it look like?

‘I assist the other Quantity Surveyors in the team, my day to day tasks involve: engaging and building relationships with subcontractors on live and tender projects, issuing sub-contract orders, raising payment notices, compiling cost reports, preparing monthly valuations, take offs and visiting site to get an idea of the project and see the monthly progression in aid of applications which need to be raised.’

As a trainee yourself, what do you think the construction industry needs to do to attract more candidates like yourself?

‘As I said previously when I was at school I was not aware of any construction careers, I think to attract more candidates to this industry we need to ensure school students who are deciding what career they want to pursue, are fully aware of the opportunities within construction. This industry offers a wide variety of amazing jobs but they are not advertised and not talked about to school pupils.

‘I think companies should visit schools more and shout about what this industry has to offer. Everyone going through school has to do work experience, it would be great idea for construction companies to approach schools and offer allocated spaces to get a glimpse of what a career as a: Quantity Surveyor, Estimator, Designer, Site Manager, Health & Safety Officer, QA Manager etc would be like.’

‘Considering that this industry is worth billions it is surprising to see the lack of time and money invested in promoting the construction careers in a positive light!
When I was at school I was certainly unaware of any careers within construction and if myself and my peers had known from a younger age about the opportunities within this industry, then maybe there would not be such a shortage of skilled workers.’

‘Being a QS is high-pressured but its also such a rewarding job, it gives me a great sense of pride once a project is completed, knowing that all of the team’s hard work has paid off! I would recommend this job to anyone.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of the role before or you don’t have any qualifications relating to it,  that person was me 2 and a half years ago and now I am fully focused on becoming a QS and completing my college course.’

There is a lot to learn from our Trainee QS Jon and the importance of highlighting the range of career paths in Construction to school pupils so they are aware of the job roles early.  To create more awareness about the opportunities within the industry, NACWL has partnered with EBP South who connects over 3500+ businesses to schools through work experience, events, employer-led days and career inspiration days.

We hope by linking up with local schools and going out and speaking to pupils we can inspire the new generation and encourage them to become Quantity Surveyors, Estimators, Designers, Site Managers, Health & Safety Officers or QA Managers. We would love these jobs to be considered a career of choice for young people!