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
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Client Services Analyst (SQL, Financial Services, Graduate,VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Services Analyst (SQL, Financial Se...

First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Economics, Finance)

£23000 per annum: Harrington Starr: First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Ec...

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition