Using qualitative methods to explore career development for construction operatives

Trade and craft employees are an instrumental part of the project delivery process. 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 attracting new employees and adopting a proactive approach to Human Resource Development (HRD). Career development programmes are capable of aligning the industry's needs with the career expectations of individual employees. However little is understood about the careers and career development of these key employees. Previous research into trade and craft populations have used quantitative methods to document labour market process and behaviour patterns, rather than using qualitative methods to explain factors which shape and influence careers. The conceptual understanding of careers and career development should be enhanced using qualitative methods to direct research as this would serve to uncover any unique factors associated with trade and craft populations and influence suitable strategies in response to them. This paper presents a rationale for the application of qualitative methods and the implications of this approach to future research.