Construction is a huge and diverse industry in the UK and all over the world. It’s estimated that this industry is worth around £110 billion every year to the British economy. Simply put, construction just means building things – buildings or pieces of infrastructure (e.g. roads, railways, water supply, electrical grids and much more.) The Construction industry is responsible for an enormous number of jobs (at least three million in the UK!) and there are always opportunities within it. A construction apprenticeship can be a great way to get started.
Why an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a scheme where the apprentice, or trainee, works for an employer in their chosen industry and learns on the job. They are paid a salary (usually minimum wage or, for those under 19, Apprentice Minimum Wage) and usually attend college one day a week, gaining not only practical job skills but a recognised qualification. Apprenticeships are well regarded as a fantastic way into many jobs and trades due to the thorough and hands on nature of the training you’ll receive.
Is a construction career right for me?
Are you a very practical person, good with your hands, and interested in learning how things work and how the buildings and infrastructure we all use every day are put together? If so, then a career in construction might be perfect for you. There are also plenty of opportunities in construction that don’t involve working with your hands. Design, architecture, business and digital career options are all great career choices you can follow in the world of construction, to name a few. Construction is also a great way to build up (excuse the pun) to a management position, like becoming a Site Supervisor. And yes, there’s an apprenticeship for that.
What types of construction apprenticeships are there?
Many different job roles are included under the umbrella of construction. Usually, tradespeople will be experts in one main area, though some are trained in multiple areas of construction.
Some big areas for construction apprenticeships at the moment are:
• Steel work
• Lifting/Crane Operation
• Site supervising
• Quantity surveying
Read on to learn more about each…
Quantity surveyor apprenticeship
Quanity surveyors check there are enough people and materials for a client’s dream project to happen. They also check that the client’s dream project is possible before it gets off the ground. This is one of those construction jobs where you don’t need to be good with your hands – and the salary prospects are really good, too.
You can get quantity surveying degree apprenticeships that you can do after A-levels or the equivalent, meaning you get a salary, work experience AND a degree – without tuition fees. You can also do Level 4 apprenticeships, or Level 3 apprenticeships as a surveying technician.
Steel worker apprenticeship
Steel workers build things from steel. Steel is used for an enormous variety of purposes including building frameworks, railway tracks, car engines, and even kitchen utensils and medical supplies. As a steel work apprentice you’ll learn skills such as fabrication and welding, construction processes and procedures, as well as learning how to use all the specialist equipment that is needed to work with steel. You may also learn complementary skills such as mechanical drawing.
Lifting technician apprenticeship
Lifting technicians work with cranes. It is their responsibility to make sure that heavy loads on construction sites are moved efficiently and safely. As a Level 2 apprentice you’ll learn to use three types of crane: Tower Crane, Crawler Crane and Mobile Crane. You’ll also learn safe working practices, how to comply with all relevant legislation, and key skills such as identifying centres of gravity and estimating weight loads.
Joinery / carpentry apprenticeship
Joinery (sometimes called Carpentry) involves working with wood, making and installing things. In a construction industry context, this is likely to include doors, window framing, gables, joists, staircases and more. A Level 2 apprenticeship in Joinery will prepare you to work as either a Site Carpenter (who works on a building site) or an Architectural Joiner (who works in a workshop and makes components with are then delivered to the building site to be fitted by the on-site staff.)
Site Supervisor apprenticeship
A construction site supervisor oversees other staff on the site and is responsible for health and safety, reporting on the progress of a project, monitoring costs and ensuring the work is of a high quality. This Level 4 apprenticeship will give you all the skills you need, such as knowledge of construction technology, sustainability and project management, as well as soft skills such as professional judgement, effective communication and teamwork.
Welding is simply a way of joining parts together as part of the construction process. Welders use high levels of energy to melt metals and fuse them together, creating extremely strong joins. This Level 2 apprenticeship will train you to work as a Welder including the handle of equipment, safe welding in various combinations and with various techniques, and checking the finished weld for structure and strength. General Welders are in high demand in a number of industries including construction.
Bricklayers use bricks and other building components to construct the walls, foundations and other parts of buildings and structures. The demand for bricklayers is expected to increase over the next few years as the government commits to building more homes. This Level 2 apprenticeship will prepare you to work as a bricklayer on a wide variety of projects, giving you both the practical and theoretical skills for this incredibly important role in the construction industry.
Roofers build, install and repair the roofs on all kinds of buildings from houses to commercial buildings. This is definitely not a job for the faint of heart, as roofing requires working at height! There are a number of specialisms available – you might choose to work with slate and tile, with metalwork and cladding, or with roof waterproofing systems. This Level 2 apprenticeship will teach you all the core skills of roofing, and then train you in your chosen specialism.
Plasterer apprenticeshipPlaster is the material that is used to coat walls before they are painted or decorated, usually for the purposes of protecting the wall but sometimes also for decorative purposes. A Level 3 apprenticeship in plastering will teach you all about the materials, techniques and safe working practices involved in plastering. You will then specialise in either solid plastering (applying a finish to walls to create a smooth surface) or fibrous plastering (specialist work where plaster is used to create decorative finishes, including repairing or restoring the plaster work on older buildings.)
Construction apprenticeship levels
What level of apprenticeship is the best fit for where you are in life right now? Here’s a handy guide:
- INTERMEDIATE (Level 2) – the same as 5 GCSEs
- ADVANCED (Level 3) – the same as 2 A-levels
- HIGHER (Level 4/5) – can lead to Level 4 qualification or foundation degree
- DEGREE (Level 6/7) – the same as a bachelor’s or master’s degree, with no tuition fees.
If you’ve had success with a construction industry apprenticeship, we’d love to hear from you!