Making construction your career
There’s much more to construction than just building sites. Whilst bricklayers are important, construction offers a wide range of jobs to suit your skills and knowledge. So, whether you’re starting your career, or wanting a career change there are many opportunities from designer and IT, administrator to manager, driver to mechanic and everything in between. Make construction your career.
Construction is diverse and rewarding. It uses some of the latest technology including Building Information Modelling, Computer Aided Design and Nanotechnology and not just for house building. Commercial projects cover everything from shopping centres to sport stadiums. Infrastructure erects roads, bridges, water and electricity stations and more. Off-site manufacturing makes components and parts in factories and transports them to site.
All this progress means many construction careers focus on green technologies and sustainability, helping to ensure the environment is protected.
What can I do?
Construction offers a diverse range of jobs; you may prefer to be active working outdoors or in manufacturing, or be office-based working on plans and processes; or a combination of both. Whatever your skills and aspirations, you’re sure to find a role within the construction industry that plays to your strengths. Discover which job is right for you on the Go Construct career explorer, based on your interests, skills and qualifications.
Although building walls is an option, you don’t have to have bricklaying skills to work in construction. You may be surprised what skills fit in the construction sector. See if you got what it takes!
First make a list of all the things you love to do; your interests, hobbies and skills. Then try the Career Explorer to find your perfect job role match. Put together a shortlist of jobs from the list which interest you the most. You may also find inspiration from trade websites and magazines, to grasp the range of opportunities out there in construction for you.
Personal skills that would be helpful to have; or you are likely to gain working in the construction industry are:
- Attention to detail
- Customer focused
- Deal with people at all levels
- Finance, good with numbers, managing budgets or stock control
- Good communication skills
- Initiative and drive
- Negotiation and influencing skills
- Problem solving
- Responsible and ‘work ready’
- Team player
- Work on your own
Get ‘CSCS carded’ (Construction Skills Certification Scheme)
To work on a construction site you need your own CSCS card to prove your skills and qualifications are valid and have a valid CITB Health, safety & environment test, as safety on site is critically. There is a Provisional card for people working on a trial, which is valid for 6 months to enable employers to assess your abilities. Learn more about CSCS cards here.
CSCS also partners with specialist industry sectors like demolition, landscaping and scaffold to ensure all training, assessments and qualifications meet construction industry standards. Generally, all cards are referred to as ‘CSCS’ cards and use the CSCS logo. For full details view CSCS partner cards here.
Pathways into construction
In construction there are so many roles to choose from and so many ways in to the industry.
Do you know someone who does the job you want to have? If so, ask them what it’s really like.
But if not, contact a local construction firm for advice. Here are some successful routes into construction, starting with:
If working in construction fits your interest, knowledge or skills, but you would like to try it first, organise some work experience to gain first-hand experience shadowing professionals to see if the work matches your expectations. Work experience is useful to have on your CV and gives you an opportunity to build your network of contacts.
If you don’t have many qualifications, a traineeship could be an ideal solution for you. Ranging from a couple of weeks to six months in length, a traineeship will help build your skills to prepare you for a job, or an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships are a great way to start in the industry if you want to earn while you learn.
Length of study depends on the level of apprenticeship, from one to five years, usually at a local training provider. Focusing on a specific job role, so you learn the skills required.
Anyone over the age of 16 can apply online for an apprenticeship. To find out more visit Go Construct apprenticeships.
Meet Sophie Turner – Trainee Site Manager
After graduating from university and working in retail and hospitality, I hadn’t really found the career I wanted to go into. Then I saw the opportunity for an apprenticeship in construction and decided to go for it!
I’ve been able to secure a role as a Trainee Site Manager with Robertsons, working on a new hospital build in Orkney.
What skills do you need in your job?
In site management I think teamwork is a key skill as there are so many people involved both on site and behind the scenes, so you need to be able to work with lots of people from different backgrounds and trades – from tradesmen to engineers.
You also need to be organised and thorough in your approach, as you’re involved in both quality of the work and the health and safety on site.
Meet Carl Bugler - Senior Assistant Engineer, Structures
When I left school I had eight CSEs and took on various job roles including apprentice fabricator and welder, HGV driver, heavy plant machinery operative and manual labourer.
I also spent five years in the Armed Forces within their Logistics Corps. When I was 32, I decided to enrol on an ONC construction course to further my career, with the view of becoming a Civil Engineer.
I work for the Caerphilly County Borough Council, in their Engineering Projects Group, structures team. My workload is extremely varied and includes: designing, assessing, maintaining and inspecting bridges and culverts (tunnels carrying a stream or open drain under a road or railway), compiling tender documents and bills of quantities for projects, and checking and processing invoices.
I also inspect and supervise construction works on-site, check the setting-out and I ensure that the works are carried out in accordance with the project’s specification. Another aspect of my job is to assist the junior members of the team, new to construction jobs and develop their skills further.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in construction?
My advice would be to research the various construction careers options carefully and seek advice from people working within your preferred choice of profession.
I’d also say set your sights on the career you want and go for it. When I went back into education at 32 it was a bit of a shock to the system, but I persevered and was rewarded when, at the age of 35, I was offered a job within the Engineering Projects Group Structures Section as a Technician following a successful interview. If I can do it, then so can you!
Talent Retention Scheme
Your skills are needed in construction!
The current period of employment instability is unfortunately seeing valued construction sector people finding themselves out of work. But with projected skills gaps and the central importance of construction in powering the country back to economic growth, the sector cannot afford to lose your skills.
The Construction Leadership Council has launched a Government-backed Talent Retention Scheme (TRS), with the aim of matching experienced but unemployed construction workers with employers who need you to help them meet the very real demand across home building, commercial construction and development of infrastructure.
Whatever the reason for your current job search the Construction Leadership Council’s new Talent Retention Scheme (TRS) can help you showcase your experience and expertise. Employers are adding new vacancies daily and you will be able to search for businesses, services, vacancies as well as news & events.
TRS is an online portal which allows redeployment of staff at risk of redundancy to cross into the construction industry and enables temporary employee loans between businesses. It also enables people who have been made redundant in other sectors to find a job in construction.
The TRS online portal is free to use until April 2021. TRS was created to secure and retain essential talent in the UK construction sector by helping businesses quickly recruit people to help reduce skills shortages, at this pivotal time in the nation’s economic recovery from Covid-19.
The Talent Retention Schemes offers:
- Free matching service which will showcase your CV to interested organizations
- Ability to search new vacancies added daily, locally, regionally and nationally
- Stay across the latest opportunities by subscribing to automated job alerts and saved searches
- Keep on top of your applications and any expressions of interest from companies via a simple and easy to use tracking system.
Applying for jobs
If you’re looking to go straight into work by applying for vacancies or making enquiries to construction firms you are interested in working for, make sure your CV is up to date. Alternatively, if you need to fill in an application form, make sure you read it very carefully and ensure the right information goes in the right places.
You could choose to be self-employed with the flexibility to manage the jobs you take on, hours you work and your pay. Or seek employment with local, national or global construction businesses. Construction gives you the opportunity to work closer to home, or travel the world. Whatever suits you, your skills and knowledge, make construction your career.
Busting those myths!
Myth 1: Construction is an old-fashioned and very traditional industry
Fact 1: New building methods and materials are constantly developing; although traditional methods of building (such as heritage skills), are essential to maintain older and listed buildings. These heritage skills are very specialist and require a great deal of training.
Even old and historic buildings are expected to meet new low carbon and waste reduction targets. So it’s a big job to maintain the aesthetics of a building, but ensure they meet modern standards
Modern construction develops and uses some of the latest technology including Building Information Modelling (BIM), Computer Aided Design (CAD) and even nanotechnology.
Myth 2: Construction is just ‘jobs for the boys’
Fact 2: Over 320,000 women have a career in construction
Myth 3: The industry is dominated by cowboy builders
Fact 3: Smaller responsible companies will register with federations and associations such as checkatrade.com, Federation of Master Builders, National Federation of Builders that have strict membership criteria and assess the quality of the work of their members.
Myth 4: I did well at school, so construction is not for me.
Fact 4: There are lots of well-paid career opportunities for successful people who are educated to degree level in the construction industry. Once you have your degree, many employers have a recognised development graduate programme.
Myth 5: Construction only benefits the people who work or invest in it.
Fact 5: Society benefits from construction because it builds infrastructure to: supply clean water, waste management, flood defence systems and improved transport systems.
Still not sure? Check out Mimi-Isabella Nwosu’s engineering myth buster video: