UK Construction Industry
The UK construction industry comprises many subsectors, including mining, forestry, urban infrastructure, product manufacturing and maintenance. Approximately 10% of total employment in the UK, or three million jobs, falls under the construction umbrella, producing more than £110 billion per annum, or 7% of the nation’s GDP.
Despite concerns about the implications of Brexit, the construction industry is holding firm in the UK. For instance, while output in the construction sector decreased by .2% across the Eurozone, as of February 2017, productivity has increased by 2.2% in the UK. This growth is surprising, but it is a good indicator of further increases in the industry, meaning that now is a very good time to pursue employment in construction.
Benefits of Working in Construction
There are numerous benefits to working in the construction sector, these include:
- Demand: According to the Construction Industry Training Board, the UK’s construction industry will need a quarter million workers in the next two years, this means there will be 45,000 vacancies each year, and that those currently holding positions can look forward to strong job security.
- Transferable Skills: Employers invest a lot of time in their staff, with on-the-job preparation being an industry standard. Even with apprenticeships, you not only receive careful on-site training but also get paid for it.
- Earnings: The construction industry is highly competitive, meaning that the salaries are, too. For instance, a university graduate can earn upwards of £60,000 per annum, not to mention receiving perks like access to company transportation and other equipment.
- Mobility: Opportunities for networking and self-employment abound. If you want to start your own construction business, the industry is flexible enough to allow for such opportunities.
Great Construction Positions to Choose From
There are plenty of construction job opportunities that exist, the most popular positions being:
- Architect: Responsible for designing buildings and ensuring they’re constructed according to their blueprint, architects combine an artistic sensibility with an engineer’s pragmatism. The average salary in the UK is about £52,500 per annum, with the upper tier making approximately £86,000.
- Construction Supervisor: Supervisors play a central role throughout the entire project’s trajectory, from planning to meeting with contractors and determining logistics and, finally to the actual building process. The average salary in the UK is approximately £40,000 per annum, with the upper tier earning roughly £60,000.
- Civil Engineer: Much like an architect but focusing on infrastructural matters such as bridges, roads and dams, civil engineers are responsible for drafting and overseeing the execution of a project. They are predominantly governmental workers and are imperative in matters of urban development. In the UK, the median salary is approximately £30,000 per annum, with the highest earners making about £50,000.
- Electrician: Arguably the most immediately lucrative of the construction industry’s many trade jobs, electricians are tasked with installing, inspecting and maintaining electrical wiring systems. On average, electricians earn about £12 per hour, with the highest hourly wages coming in at approximately £17.
- Heavy Equipment Operator: These people are responsible for safely operating heavy equipment, such as trucks, dozers, compactors and graders, along with performing semiskilled maintenance tasks as applicable. The median hourly wage for heavy equipment operators is £11, with the highest reported hourly earnings being £17.50.
- Planner: A construction professional who reports to the project manager, a planner develops schedules for various projects and ensures they are completed safely, punctually and within budget. The median salary for a planner is £52,500, and the upper range makes £67,500.
Best Places to Work in Construction
London boasts the highest reported rates for those in the construction industry, with average earnings of £57,500. Cambridge, Aberdeen, Norwich and Warwick are tied for second place, reporting a median salary of £47,500. For purposes of comparison, the national average is £41,570.
A project to keep an eye on is Crossrail Limited’s forthcoming Elizabethan line, a new railway opening in 2018 and operating across London and the Southeast. Currently, there are openings for managerial, engineering and accountant positions, along with apprenticeships. Another megaproject underway is the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, a multi-billion-pound project that will provide low-carbon energy to approximately five million homes in the UK. Construction is expected to provide 25,000 jobs, and the completed plant will employ 900 people.
Key Skills You’ll Need to Thrive in Construction
Here are four key skills you will need in construction work:
- Management: Whether managing others in a supervisorial role or yourself via excellent time management, strong organisational skills are essential in this project-based industry.
- Knowledge of Codes: Construction codes are continuously evolving, especially as environmental considerations play a greater role in the planning process. A basic understanding of building, electrical, environmental codes, as well as familiarity with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), will demonstrate that you’re competent regarding the industry’s particulars.
- Design: Whether you’re drafting blueprints or reading them to ensure their specifications are met, facility with design and its interpretation is fundamental in all realms of construction.
- Manual Dexterity: While not all construction positions entail physical labour, some degree of physical fitness is helpful, not to mention a matter of safety, for any position where you may be on-site. However, there are numerous office-based roles available as well, so no need to fret if you are unable to navigate the site.
Being able to not only contribute to a project but witness its development stage by stage is incredibly rewarding. And, along with the gratification of having tangible results, the construction industry’s becoming quite a lucrative field.