Career dynamics within the construction industry : a trade and craft perspective
Recruiting and retaining an adequate share of the UK workforce is vital to meeting the construction industry's demands and sustaining its current growth. This requires the industry to attract new employees, adopt a proactive approach to Human Resource Development (HRD) and the formulation of effective retention strategies. Career development programmes are required which can align the industry's needs with the career expectations of the individual employee. However, despite the importance of such schemes to the trade and craft occupations, most research devoted to career development has a professional and managerial focus. A need to redress this imbalance has been compounded by a variety of factors such as the scarcity of skilled people, falling recruitment levels and high employee turnover rates. The overall aim of the work reported in this thesis is to develop an understanding of trade and craft career dynamics. The information can be used as a framework for supporting specific career management and career development initiatives, which in turn will serve to actively encourage skill development, attract new employees and retain the services of the current workforce. Drawing on the conceptual languages of extant "Careers" and "Human Resource Management" theory, the research adopted an ethnographic research approach. An iterative multiphase research design framework was utilised, involving a combination of research paradigms. These quantitative and qualitative methods included: a questionnaire of 563 informants; discussions with 54 groups of trainees; and 88 indepth interviews with both New Entrant Trainees (NETs) and Qualified and Experienced (QE) construction workers. By encouraging systematic narrative accounts of the attitudes, behaviours and idea systems of the actors involved a better understanding of the nature of trade and craft employment was developed. Combining and comparing the fmdings of both datasets (NETs and QEs) and relating this to the outlined theoretical perspectives sheds new light on the career dynamics within the industry. The resear_c~-. found that although employees are not comprehensive in their information and search of career options; they do place a high priority on career development. However, career development is limited due to the realities (opportunities and operational conditions) of the industry; which influence attitudes of individuals and their peers. Employees often further encounter a series of career decision errors which affect the employment relationship. The fmdings suggest that good career development practice is capable of helping to attract, recruit and retain a sustainable share of the UK workforce. As such, the fmdings provide a platform from which effective employment strategies can be developed in the future.