FROM SCHOOL LEAVER: AN INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

Built to last: Help create the iconic buildings of the future

With a career in construction, the sky's the limit, says Mayuri Patel

If you were to guess what the biggest industry in the UK is, what would you say? Media? Law? You might be surprised to hear that the answer is in fact construction. The UK construction industry currently employs over two million people - that's one in every 14 working people. They work in a wide variety of different types of jobs, creating billions of pounds of business each year. The UK construction industry is recognised and admired globally for its world class design, superb architecture and high quality.

But what exactly is construction? Well, it means everything to do with constructing buildings and built spaces. That includes every detail from studio-based architectural design to hands-on plumbing and all sorts in between. And these jobs are not, as the construction industry's reputation suggests, available only for men. In fact, almost 200,000 women work in construction - so there's no excuse for girls not to get involved.

An innovative, creative, profitable construction industry is necessary for us to have modern public services and an exciting environment. If you had to have an operation, for example, you'd need a fully-functioning, carefully-designed hospital to stay in. When you need to get about, it's important that the roads are safely and sensibly laid out, and that the train station is comfortable and well-designed. Then there are more creative uses for construction. Ever heard of the Eden project in Cornwall?

Well, that amazing building, which is essentially a series of massive exotic greenhouses, would not be here without the construction industry. It took around 200 construction workers on site to make it - not to mention a whopping £86m! The Eden project is proving to be a massive success: it's not only helping to shape and improve the local environment, but also the local economy.

Another current major construction project is Wembley Stadium. Although it's running behind schedule, over 300 construction workers are working away on site to deliver the new building as soon as possible. All of these are examples of what you can achieve and be a part of if you choose to go into the construction sector.

People who work in construction can be employed in different ways as well as in different roles. Many work for a specific company or employer, but 35 per cent of construction workers today are self-employed. It's an ever-changing and expanding industry that's always on the look out for new talent.

A great way to get involved is through an apprenticeship. These are work-based training programmes, offering 16- to 24-year-olds paid employment while you learn. You work towards an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) or an SVQ (Scottish Vocational Qualification), Key Skills qualifications and a technical certificate such as a BTEC or City & Guilds. And as you're working part-time while gaining your qualifications, you understand the nature of your job in a real sense, and build up great industry contacts. Many apprentices go straight from training to a full-time just with their training provider.

There are five different construction apprenticeships. You can study building engineering, construction, electrical and electronic servicing, engineering and plumbing. To get involved in any of these areas, you'll need to be good with your hands, be prepared to undertake a physically demanding job in all sorts of weather, have full colour vision, be able to work both individually as well as in a team, and be able and willing to follow all safety instructions. Your training as an apprentice can take between one and five years. It is both a mental and physical process.

Case studies

KEVIN RONEY, 17, is working towards an SVQ 3 in scaffolding. In his day-to-day schedule, Roney works all over the country, putting up different types of scaffolding systems that are used for roofing, cleaning stonework and other roles. "I enjoy the variety of work and the places I go to," says Roney. "Scaffolding's all about working as part of a team - and the pay's good too. Plus, you get a great view from a 200ft-high scaffold!" Roney chose this career because he wanted a challenge. He put in his research first too: before becoming an apprentice, Roney spoke to family friends who were scaffolders and did a taster course at college so he could gain more of an insight into scaffolding and the construction sector.

MARCUS WILLIAMS, 22, is a plasterer. He is working towards an NVQ Level 3 in fibrous plastering.

"Getting your hands dirty is as satisfying as seeing the results of your hard work," says Williams. He goes to college once a week, and so he gets the opportunity to meet different people and to socialise.

Employers are often keen to take on apprentices as the benefit from doing so as much as the apprentice does. A good example of this is David Taylor, who has been employing apprentices at his company D-Tec Electrical Limited in Chadderton, for 10 years.

Taylor says, "I believe apprenticeships are the way forward for my company as you can train them within the company rules and ethics. Apprentices are very loyal and tend to stay on as full-time employees once they have completed their apprenticeship. You get good value for money, as you do not have to spend time recruiting new people. What you put in, you get out."

Construction companies great and small seem to agree: Willmott Dixon, which is one of the top 20 companies in the UK construction industry, deals with the construction of local authority schools as well as other projects. They are keen to recruit apprentices. Likewise Shepherd, which is one of Europe's largest engineering and construction companies, and Wates, a large, privately-owned construction and development company.

Construction jobs demand that you work well in teams, which means you will never be on your own. You may get the chance to travel and work overseas, either setting up your own business or working for an overseas construction company. Or you could work on exciting projects closer to home. So why not become part of this rewarding industry? You may have the opportunity to contribute to a world famous building - whether it's the next Eden Project, Wembley Stadium, or whatever other big project the future has in store!

Five ways into construction

The construction apprenticeship courses available to you include:

Building services engineers apprenticeship

Students learn how to create and maintain a comfortable, energy-efficient and safe environment within a building.

Construction (craft) apprenticeship

Here, you have the chance to gain both the knowledge and craft skills needed for construction. These skills include masonry (stone and brickwork), steeplejacking (fixing and building steeples and chimneys), brick laying and wood occupations. Normally, craft engineer apprentices will need at least three GCSEs grade C in maths, English and a science or technology subject.

Electrical and electronic servicing apprenticeship

This course will give you the opportunity to learn the theoretical and practical skills to install and maintain electronic equipment. Service engineers can work in specialist workshops or customers' homes.

Engineering apprenticeship

This course can lead to a particularly wide range of career options, from aircraft engineering to manufacturing. You may do welding, pipefitting and many other skills as part of your apprenticeship.

Plumbing apprenticeship

This involves learning to master the skills of cutting, bending and joining pipework of all types such as copper, plastic, steel and iron. Training will be given to apprentices on gas appliances and oil-fuelled systems.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksJK Rowling to publish new story set in wizard's world for Halloween
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

EBD LSA required - Vale of Glamorgan

£60 - £65 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The J...

EBD Teacher - Food Technology Specialist

£100 - £181 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The JobTo plan and deliver all ...

Learning Support Assistant

£50 - £60 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The J...

HLTA

£50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: HLTA - Maldon - ASAPOur School is ...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker