city skyline

Careermag: Construction

Build the world around you.

The construction industry is responsible for designing, building and maintaining the places where we live and work. Whether it’s building offices, shops or homes (or stadiums, stations, airports…you name it), the industry employs skilled people at every level. There are lots of opportunities to begin a great career and help to shape the world.

What types of Apprenticeship are available?

Plastering, scaffolding and carpentry are just a few of the apprenticeships available in construction – there are over 30 in total. You might be familiar with some of the choices, but there are plenty of others that might just surprise you.

About the Construction Industry

Construction is one of the most important sectors in the UK, and it’s growing fast. In fact, it’s estimated that over 220,000 jobs will be created in construction over the next five years, to work on a wide range of new projects. The good news for apprentices is that there will be lots of opportunities to get on the construction career ladder – the industry is going to need 120,000 extra apprentices by 2018 to help build our homes, roads and railways. It’s time to get building…

What can I do?

Careers in construction are as varied as the shapes and sizes of the buildings in our towns and cities. Whatever your talents and interests, there will be a role in construction to suit you. You might be working as part of a skilled team laying bricks or putting the roof on a skyscraper; managing a building site; or even carving stone gargoyles to repair a cathedral.

Construction really is a hands-on profession and you’ll learn plenty of skills on the job. Training is available at all levels, from your first steps to moving into a senior position. Plus, you’ll be entering a global industry where your skills could be in demand with employers all over the world, so you could learn, develop your skills and travel as well.

Fancy being your own boss? More than a third of people working in the construction industry are self-employed, so you could even end up running your own business.

The Skills to Build

People working in the construction industry come from all kinds of backgrounds and will need different skills to do their jobs. Some manual jobs will demand good hand/eye coordination and a decent level of physical fitness, for example; or you’ll need a good head for maths to be an engineer. If you’re interested in a career in construction it’s worth thinking about where your strengths are and what roles might suit you – but don’t forget that you’ll also develop a lot of the skills you need as part of your training.

Construction Careers

Here are just some of the jobs available in construction:

Design and Management – Architect, Building Surveyor, Civil Engineer, Facilities Manager, Landscape Architect, Project Manager, Quantity Surveyor, Structural Engineer, Town Planner

Technicians – Architectural Technician, Buyer, CAD Operator, Estimator, Site Engineer

Craft roles – Carpenter, Joiner, Demolition Operative, Floor Layer, Painter and Decorator, Plant Mechanic, Plasterer, Roofer, Scaffolder, Shop Fitter, Stonemason

Getting Started

You’ll be able to find apprenticeships and jobs in the industry at CareerMap, or head to the Go Construct website to find out more about construction and the opportunities available. There’s also some useful info about the different myths surrounding construction: it’s not just for men, for example, as 300,000 women currently work in the industry.

Routes into construction include:

  • Apprenticeships
  • Vocational qualifications / A Levels
  • Construction Diplomas
  • National Diplomas and Certificates
  • Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Diplomas (HNDs)
  • Foundation Degrees (England and Wales only)
  • Bachelors Degrees
Silhouette of worker in front of buildings

Earn and Learn

Apprenticeships are a popular way to begin a career in construction. A CITB apprenticeship usually lasts between two and four years, depending on where you’re based and what level you’re aiming for. As an apprentice, you’ll split your time between training with an employer and learning at college.

Apprentices are:

  • in full-time employment
  • earn at least £95 / week, with many earning a lot more
  • gain a nationally recognised qualification
  • get hands-on, practical experience to get their careers off to a good start

Your on the job training will be structured by your employer to make sure you earn the right skills for the job you’re doing (no point learning lion-taming if you actually want to be a joiner, after all). College training will take place on day release at college, or in a few concentrated study blocks.

Levels of Apprenticeship

The CITB Apprenticeship Scheme offers apprenticeships at three levels:

Level Two – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades

Level Three – equivalent to A Levels / Highers

Level Four – equivalent to Foundation Degree / Advanced Highers

A Level Two apprenticeship takes two years to complete, then you can continue for another year to achieve Level Three. Level Four is designed for those aiming for technical, design or management careers.

Life as a Construction Apprentice

As a construction apprentice you’ll be earning a weekly wage, developing your skills and working towards a respected qualification – and you’ll be helping to shape the world around you as well.

What will I be doing?

Construction is an incredibly varied industry and apprenticeships reflect that. There’s a lot more to it than wearing a hard hat and drinking tea (although both of those things can happen): depending on your apprenticeship you might be in an office; working in a craft role restoring monuments; or learning to use the latest technology to design new buildings.

Whatever your role or company, you’ll be expected to fit in and work well with your new colleagues. That means getting to work on time, being reliable and paying attention to instructions – particularly on building sites, where safety is very important. You’ll start at the bottom, but don’t worry: as your skills improve and you find your feet, you’ll be able to work your way up.

Apprenticeships are unique as you’ll be studying as well as working, so you’ll get a taste of life at college as well as work. It’s a chance to make new friends and socialise, as well as picking up some handy time management skills as you learn to balance your work, study and social life. You’ll also be earning your own money, which will help when it comes to buying the tools you need for your trade, as well as paying for nights out with your friends.

Construction can involve early starts, travel, being outdoors in all weathers and a lot of hard work. It can be challenging to meet all your coursework deadlines and to stay motivated when you’ve had a tiring week, but don’t worry – there’s always support available. Plus, at the end of your apprenticeship you’ll have some great skills and qualifications, and you’ll hopefully be ready to build a lifelong career on those solid foundations.

You could work in:

  • Infrastructure – roads and rail
  • Housing
  • Schools
  • Industrial buildings
  • Offices and retail
  • Repair and maintenance

Find apprenticeships and jobs in construction and the built environment near you at CareerMap.

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