The UK building education recruitment crisis: A call for action

Andrew R.J. Dainty, David J. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Anecdotal evidence suggests that construction industry professions are facing an unprecedented recruitment crisis. In recent years many construction degree programmes have been withdrawn in response to falling recruitment across most built environment disciplines, whilst at the same time employers are reporting difficulties in recruiting a sufficient graduate intake to satisfy demand. In order to assess the potential impact of this decline, this paper presents an analysis of application and admissions data to UK higher education courses over a six-year period. The results reveal a significant decline in the number of graduates applying for, and accepting, places on building degree courses during the analysis period despite increased micro-economic activity. Curiously, the number of women graduates has remained fairly constant over this period. Total applications per annum were then modelled using a quadratic model equation. With an R2 at 0.98 and a mean percentage error of appropriately 1%, the model was deemed to be a good predictor. Forecasts generated using this model for the years 2001 to 2005 suggest a steady and continuous decline in building degree applications. Industry output forecasts for the same period show a steady growth which is likely to result in an increased demand for graduates and hence, skills shortages. Reasons are postulated as to why the image of the industry has led to such a steep decline in graduate enrolments over the last few years. It is concluded that industry practitioners, professional bodies and universities should embark upon a collaborative, immediate and sustained promotional campaign if they are to avoid severe recruitment difficulties in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-775
Number of pages9
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Building degrees
  • Demand
  • Forecast
  • Graduates
  • Image

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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