A cartoon monkey is going to save the UK construction industry.

Read that sentence again and remember where you heard it first.

Recession continues to dominate trade media headlines at the minute, and understandably so, but we may be guilty of taking our eyes off the big picture. Namely, that circa 250,000 shortfall in roles for the sector.

In recent weeks I’ve shared posts from people like Rich Smith at Keltbray and the When I Grow Up children’s book, and MOBIE ’s #DesignFutureLondon initiatives, both of which I love.

The reason I love them is that both speak to young people at their level and allow them to learn more about the sector by immersion. Another thing that does this is Netflix ’s Chico Bon Bon.

If you haven’t seen it (shame on you), it’s an animated with a phenomenal theme song show whose eponymous character is a cartoon monkey that saves his friends from a series of scrapes through ingenuity, design, and construction.

My son is completely obsessed and is getting to see a hero character intelligently problem solve and find solutions that enhance the built environment for the benefit of its inhabitants. He just doesn’t know it yet.

And that’s the way that I think it should be.

The idea needs to stick with young people that problem solving is fun, and that construction (and other STEM sectors) are a great place for real innovators and lateral thinkers to apply their talents.

Part of the reason it’s something that I’m so passionate about is that I’ve seen it work. One of the things I’m most proud of is SLG Agency ‘s work with The Smallpeice Trust . If you’re not aware of it, the Trust does some brilliant work in delivering STEM-related courses to school age young people.

Rather than talk about career choices, potential future earnings, or anything else that feels too abstract and distant to young people, we developed its ‘Dare to Imagine’ brand proposition and just made the courses seem as fun as possible. And it worked, and continues to work.

It worked for the same reasons that kids love the LEGO Group , and that toy stores sell construction ‘fancy dress’ sets. Getting lost in making or repairing something is immersive, interesting and above all, fun. Somewhere along the way we lose that.

We ran a piece of research a few years back with SIG Distribution and found that construction was the sector that the fewest people wanted to join, citing the usual nonsense about the work being dirty, low paid, boring etc. All rubbish, but if perception is truth, then we’re in trouble.

Things like Chico Bon Bon, or ‘Bob the Builder’ or Lego – or anything else that is fun and sector specific are so important. Our job as a sector is to keep that thought in the minds of young people as they grow – and that starts with the young people in our lives.

The more interesting we can make our world look; the more others are going to want to join the party. I don’t just mean roles that are synonymous with the sector, like contracting, but every role.

So, would you recommend construction to your kids, and what would you say to them?

If you’re not sure, let Chico do the heavy lifting for you.

Managing Director