The UK’s growing population has led to an increasing demand for investment in buildings and infrastructure. Skilled construction workers are in high demand to support the growth of new businesses, new homes, and public spaces. In the past, people would join a construction company straight from school and learn on the job. However, this is changing. Currently, studies show that 30% of construction workers in the UK are aged 50 or over. What are the best routes into the industry?

Construction Apprenticeships

Skill shortages are a huge problem in construction. So, many believe that apprenticeships are the most effective way to tackle the issue. Engineering, Manufacturing, Construction, Planning and Built Environment are among the top five sectors for apprenticeship starts.

The number of apprenticeships in the Construction, Planning and Built Environment brackets in England show a positive increase over the last five years:

construction apprenticeshipsApprenticeships by year

2013/14         16,000

2014/15         18,000

2015/16         21,000

2016/17         21,000

2017/18         23,000

Today, more businesses are offering further advanced apprenticeships that range from a Level 3 qualification to a degree. Speaking on the matter, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Brian Berry says:

Apprenticeships are longer in duration and cover a broader range of knowledge and hand-skills. This not only benefits the employers but also the apprentices who will be arming themselves with a wider range of skills for their future careers.

Apprenticeships in construction include at least a years’ worth of training that earns a learner a qualification recognised by industry leaders. However, find the area that you’re most interested in as there are over 100 apprenticeships on offer.

Apprenticeships are open to people of all ages over 16 and with no upper age limit. However, if you’re 24 or above, you could be eligible for adult skills funding if you carry out an advanced-level apprenticeship of Higher Apprenticeship. Overall, apprenticeships are a great choice for those looking for their first job after school or university or those in later life who are looking to change careers.

What jobs are available?

construction industry rolesGo Construct offers a helpful tool that can give you insight into what jobs are available in the sector, as well as information on what it’s really like to work onsite. This considers your preferred place of work, interests, qualifications, and skills. In terms of apprenticeships, you’ve probably heard the phrase ‘earn as you learn’, and it’s completely true. You’ll be entitled to the National Minimum Wage while you’re working, but the minimum wage rate for an apprentice is currently £3.70 per hour. This rate applies to apprentices who are under 19 and those who are over 19 but are in their first year. After your first year and if you are over 19, you must be paid the minimum wage rate for your age.

Construction Graduate Schemes

Many people go to university to study construction. According to WhatUni’s database, there are 76 universities offering 231 different degrees in relation to Architecture, Building, and Planning. However, one study finds that 44% of university students don’t know what they want to do once they leave. A graduate programme could be the answer. Many construction firms are beginning to understand the advantages of hiring someone straight out of university. For them, it’s a quick solution to the employment and skills crisis facing the sector.

A construction graduate scheme offers a focused training programme run by employers. In terms of length, these usually last between one and two years. Within most programmes, graduates will take on immense responsibility within a business and develop their understanding of the job.

Environmental consultants, Patrick Parsons, is just one company that provides a graduate scheme that has become the starting point for many people’s careers:

We actively develop pioneering, passionate, creative and motivated engineers to become integral members of our high-performing team. Our graduate scheme has proven to be successful for both our business and anyone who is coming out of university looking for the right experience in the field. More businesses should definitely be looking to offer these type of initiatives as it is one way to proactively solve the skill shortage problem the industry is facing.

Does a career in construction appeal to you? If so, apprenticeships and graduate schemes are a great way to combine practical work with tailored study programmes.

Thanks for this guest post go to our friend Natasha Christou of mediaworksuk