Are Construction Worker Stereotypes Causing a Skill Shortage? By SARAH LOREK, Lead Content Strategist, Trimble www.buildings.trimble.com @TheSarahLorek
The demand for construction is growing much faster than the number of skilled workers, and the industry is facing a skill shortage like never before. So why aren’t more students interested in construction? Could construction worker stereotypes be to blame for the skill shortage? In this article, we’ll review how construction workers are often stereotyped, why the stereotypes could be causing the skill shortage, and, at the heart of it all, who these workers really are.
— The Stereotypical Construction Worker — In an article, “Three Myths of Construction Workers: ‘Why we are not Second-Class Citizens’,” Forrest Sim outlines three common myths about construction workers. He notes Myth #2 as “Construction workers are just dumb brutes who only know how to swing a hammer.” Sims rejects this stereotype, saying his team consists of engineers, designers, and workers with degrees and educations of all levels. He adds that, as construction workers, his team is detail-oriented, creative, motivated, hardworking, and even innovative. Sim writes, “We don’t construct because we can’t do
anything else—we construct because we are so capable of building excellence.” The industry is a choice for many—not a last resort option. Another stereotype that Sim discusses is that construction workers are disrespectful towards women. Back in 2016, a viral shot of a construction worker taking a selfie with Kate Middleton surfaced, causing uproar in media outlets across the globe. The shot shows construction worker, Sam Wayne, holding up his phone for a selfie while Kate and William walked by a construction site. The speculation by the media was that the workers were catcalling Princess Kate. In an interview, Wayne explained that the workers showed respect towards Kate,
Selfie taken by Sam Wayne of Kate Middleton and Prince William / Facebook
and added that he was amused that the media was so caught up in a stereotype about builders and scaffolders, rather than the Middleton’s visit. Speculation aside, if anything, this is evidence that the stereotypes of construction workers are still going strong. So why do they exist in the first place? What is the source of this stigma?
THE EUROPEAN WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING AWARDS >> MAY 2019
2019 WICE awards and summit summary.