‘Career Academics’ are principally research-led, entering academia with limited or no industrial or practical experience. UK Higher Education Institutions welcome them for their potential to attain research grant funding and publish world-leading journal papers, ultimately enhancing institutional reputation. This polemical paper problematises the Career Academic around three areas: their institutional appeal; their impact on the student experience, team dynamics and broader academic functions; and current strategic policy to employ them. We also argue that recent UK Government teaching-focused initiatives will not address needs to employ practical academics, or ‘Pracademics’ in predominantly vocational Construction and Engineering Education. We generate questions for policy-makers, institutions and those implementing strategy. We argue that research is key, but partial rebalancing will achieve a diverse academic skill base to achieve contextualised construction and engineering education. In wider European contexts, the paper resonates with issues of academic ‘drift’ and provides reflection for others on the UK context.