The construction sector is hugely important, responsible for homes, roads and the basic infrastructure that underpins everyday life. There is also a great deal of variety when it comes to the types of construction jobs available to prospective employees and increasingly there are a variety of entry routes into the profession. As an alternative to studying for a degree in engineering or architecture, for example, construction apprenticeships are providing an accessible starting point for young people looking to make their first move into employment and more experienced individuals looking for a career change.
The construction industry and the housing crisis.
One of the biggest issues facing the UK today is the lack of affordable housing. In London, where the situation is at its most severe, the average house price is now £467,070, an increase of 22 per cent since August 2013. Although, there are many political and economic factors at the root of the UK’s housing crisis, the construction industry does offer a potential solution. Having a steady supply of workers in this sector, both skilled and unskilled, is critical to ensure that there are enough homes being built in the country.
In particular, encouraging young people to enter the industry through apprenticeships is an effective way of bolstering the construction workforce. Many individuals feel that there is a barrier to entering technical or management construction jobs because they do not have the relevant qualifications as many are unable to attend university for financial or other reasons.
Apprenticeships can offer an alternative entry point to these individuals, alongside a host of other advantages:
- Financial – As well as not having to pay tuition fees, apprentices can begin earning straight away;
- Learning – There is still an element of study involved so apprentices can learn the industry recognised skills that employers wan;
- Practical – Apprenticeships involve a lot more practical and hands-on work compared to a university degree;
- Fast – Depending on the placement, apprenticeship can often be completed quicker than a three or four year degree and see individuals in employment much sooner.
When compared to a university course, securing an apprenticeship is more like applying for a full-time job. Applicants must be at least 16 years old (although there is no upper age limit) and the specific apprenticeship vacancy may come with additional requirements, such as GCSEs in maths and english. With the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), apprenticeships usually last between two and four years depending on the qualifications being studied for, with the minimum wage of £95 a week although many apprentices earning considerably more.
There are many different types of apprenticeships in the construction industry, ranging from scaffolding to supervision roles, and they occur over three levels:
- The Level 2 apprenticeship is equivalent to GCSE standard and takes two years to complete;
- Level 3 is a three year programme equivalent to A-Level standard;
- Level 4 is degree standard and suitable for those who wish to go into technical or management positions.
There are also specialist apprenticeships and a recently launched Level 5 programme available in Professional Practice in Construction Operations Management.
If you’re not sure which construction role is right for you, or to discover the best way of getting on to an apprenticeship scheme, your local Randstad CPE branch can offer assistance. With years of experience recruiting in the construction industry, we can help you build the career in construction you’ve always wanted.