Prioritising career development in relation to recruitment and retention: a trade and craft perspective

Individuals attach a certain priority to key extrinsic and intrinsic work-related factors, namely: career development, financial incentives, work conditions, job content, job security and social relations. These factors have variously been described as influencing career choice and also determining what causes individuals to remain or leave careers. In particular, the ongoing skills crisis faced by the UK construction sector has raised the profile of career development as a factor to recruiting and retaining an appropriately skilled workforce. The priorities attached to career development and other work-related factors were explored via a questionnaire survey of over 550 craft trainees. Their relative priorities were validated through a set of focused discussions in which informants disclosed the reasons underlying their preference, and their wider perceptions of the industry. Results reveal that, contrary to anecdotal suggestions, craft workers are not purely motivated by monetary reward. Trainees aspired to develop their career beyond the confines of their specific craft specialization. However, further results suggest that available career development opportunities do not provide suitable transitional routes towards managerial and professional positions. This raises questions as to whether the industry will be able to attract and retain workers in the future without improving career pathways.