Back in the late nineties and noughties, the go to career was in the IT sector; this has now tapered off to an extent. The perception back then of learning a career in construction was frowned upon and considered a go to job route if you did not do well in you GCSE’s or dropped out of school. There wasn’t any good careers advice regarding construction and the vast array of career opportunities available.
Now the construction sector has come to the forefront of Government policies, regarding the pledge to build a significant number of houses and affordable housing.
Construction has become one of the largest sectors of the economy. Because of this boom in the industry, there is a shortage of skilled labour, combined with an aging workforce.
As a result, more companies are promoting apprenticeships in not just the vocational trades, such as Bricklaying, Carpentry, Plumbing and Electrical installations at level 2 and 3, but also the academic side of construction too; right up to level 6 degree and master’s level 7 in surveying, project management or architecture.
More and more mid to large construction companies are beginning to promote careers throughout their organisation. This starts with inspiring the youth of today; even starting as young as visiting junior schools as well as careers events at secondary schools and colleges.
Some companies are making links with local college construction departments to offer students on fulltime courses an opportunity of an apprenticeship. I strongly believe in changing the perception of a career in construction and capturing children’s interest early, so they can then focus on the qualifications they need to pursue their chosen construction career.
Why choose a career in construction
A career in the construction sector is very rewarding and can offer a good living. As an apprentice you can earn and learn at the same time. Most construction vocational trade and academic apprenticeships are over 2-3 years, attending a college, training centre or university one day a week or block release.
I believe this is a vital aspect for apprentices learning a vocational trade. It allows them to learn new skills in a safe environment, but at the same time it allows them to make mistakes and learn from these. This is combined with them working and learning on site to allow the apprentice to put their training into real life practice.
On completion of their training and work-based assessment, this will lead to a qualification that shows their competency of training and work-based learning. From this, the apprentice will be able to apply for a CSCS card that shows their trade qualification.
An apprentice who has completed a level 2 qualification will have a Blue card; a level 3 will have a Gold card.
Tips for becoming an apprentice in the construction sector:
- Research the career path you want to take
- Gain the relevant qualifications needed for your chosen course. English and maths grades need to meet the minimum level for the course at the start of the apprenticeship. However, continued tuition can be combined with the apprenticeship to meet the required level by the end of the course
- Send your CV to companies and apply for apprenticeship opportunities
- Take and pass the Health, Safety and Environment CSCS test, to be able to apply for the Red Apprentice CSCS card. You will need this to work on site
A statistic I heard: A GP doctor on average is 44 years old, before they earn as much money as a qualified bricklayer, once they had paid off all off their university fees and loans, whereas the bricklayer completed his three-year apprenticeship, which was funded by the government and employer.
Benefits of becoming an apprentice:
- Training at college/university/training centre, as well as gaining real life training experience on a project
- As you will be an employee of the company on (PAYE) Pay As You Earn, you will be entitled to paid holidays and sick pay
- Earn while you learn
- Possible travel costs covered
- Possible tool kit provided
- No loans to pay back after your training
Females in Construction
Now in the era of equal opportunities, there are more females entering apprenticeships that lead to careers in all aspects of the construction industry. This industry has such a diverse array of careers, from the vocational trades to marketing, surveying, project management, health & safety advisors and architectural roles. Recently one of our female apprentices passed her NVQ2 Bricklaying qualification.
I trained for three years as a bricklaying apprentice myself, gaining an NVQ3 in bricklaying. I thoroughly believe an apprenticeship is the best way to train and gain experience at the same time. This kickstarted my career and I have continued to learn ever since, gaining more qualifications up to the present day.
Christian Hatherall-Good, Training Manager at Lee Marley Brickwork Ltd
Christian Hatherall-Good has 25 years of experience in construction and education. He now works for Lee Marley Brickwork Ltd (LMB) as their Training Manager. He is in charge of all LMB apprentices, mentoring and monitoring them throughout from the point of induction, to monitoring and delivering training, through to qualification. LMB currently offers both brickwork and scaffolding apprenticeships in order to bring the next generation of tradesmen into the construction industry.