Championing construction careers: CIOB NI Chair targets youth engagement

Jonathan Payne FCIOB, took over at the helm of the regional hub from Roger Gillespie FCIOB and said young people across Northern Ireland are shoehorned into working in construction as a last resort. His comments lined up with CIOB Research which proves archaic perceptions about low pay and construction roles being “overly physical” are a significant barrier preventing more people from choosing a career in the industry.

Data in CIOB’s Building Up Ireland – Professional insights from the construction sector in 2023 report – also highlights around 900 more people a year are needed in construction jobs in Northern Ireland to meet demand. 

Jonathan said, “My focus will be the image of construction to younger generations. I want to promote the construction industry as a career path for young people because I believe a lot of the time it is still considered to be a last resort. 

“It almost feels like if someone doesn’t fit into other boxes then they are sent down the construction route. I want to use my tenure to promote construction as a brilliant profession with excellent rates of pay and great career prospects.

“That starts with working with both primary and secondary schools to get positive messages out there. We also need to educate the educators, and ensure that career departments within schools are aware of the diverse and rewarding opportunities that exist within the construction industry.”

Jonathan lives in Magherafelt and has enjoyed an illustrious career in construction which spans more than 30 years to date. 

He is particularly passionate about helping companies grow and develop and recently started his own venture by forming his own construction consultancy – Incrementum (Europe) Ltd. 

In addition to inspiring young people across the region, Jonathan also wants construction companies across the country to collaborate and encourage the Northern Ireland Assembly to better understand how important construction is when it comes to boosting an economy.

He continued, “I think a large part of the role will be influencing. We don’t have a sitting Eexecutive at the moment which makes things very challenging. All the construction organisations need to work very closely together to try and get messages out there. We have an awful lot of issues because of the political situation so it is about trying to use our voice to do something good. 

“Ultimately, our Northern Ireland Assembly does not seem to be a big supporter of construction. They never seem to appreciate the impact the sector has on the economy and the great multiplier effect. We find that difficult.” 

Outside of work, Jonathan considers himself to be handy around the house and delves into various construction projects during his free time. That includes converting a garage into a design studio, building a small extension to his house and even crafting a wood-fired pizza oven. 

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