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Roles in construction


Craft roles

The craft industry covers a whole range of different trades including:

  • Wood occupations e.g. Site Joiner, Shop fitter, Wood Machinist
  • Exterior occupations e.g. Bricklayer, General Construction Operative
  • Interior occupations e.g. Painter and Decorator, Ceiling Fixer
  • Specialist occupations e.g. Thatcher, Roofer, Scaffolder
  • Plant occupations e.g. Plant Mechanic, Plant Operator

Most people enter craft careers through apprenticeships; although other types of training schemes are available. A construction apprenticeship is usually a two year programme to NVQ/SVQ level 2, then a further one year advanced programme to achieve NVQ/SVQ level 3. Most craft occupations have an NVQ available at both levels 2 and 3. These qualifications are achieved by assessment onsite combined with some college-based training.

People looking to gain craft skills and qualifications can take a construction diploma at a further education college, which can be converted to an S/NVQ by recording relevant work-based evidence on-site. There are opportunities to progress in the construction sector and many people start their own companies. Career paths in the sector tend to varied as people train and begin to specialise.

Individuals employed in one of the many craft occupations may need to be competent with installing features, such as:

  • Airtightness – a robust primary air barrier around entire house
  • Energy efficient ventilation
  • Vented window panels
  • Solar panels to convert energy from the sun into electricity
  • Factory produced flat panel units which are transported to site for assembly
  • Vacuum insulation panels
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • External insulation
  • Refurbishment of sash windows

Forecasts suggest that between 2010 and 2014, the UK annual recruitment requirements by craft occupation will be:

  • 4,530 wood trade and interior fit out
  • 2,070 bricklayers
  • 990 building envelope specialists
  • 3,720 painters and decorators
  • 860 plasterers and dry liners
  • 270 roofers
  • 1,390 floorers
  • 1,130 glaziers
  • 950 specialist building operatives e.g. ceiling fixers, pipe layer, thermal insulation fitter
  • 1,080 scaffolders
  • 3,010 plant operatives
  • 1,010 plant mechanics/fitters
  • 800 steel erectors/structural
  • 6,900 labourers
  • 1,150 electrical trades and installation
  • 1,080 plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades
  • 2,620 civil engineering operatives

Specific examples of skills required in the craft industry include:

  • Solar Thermal – Understanding of installation issues; understanding of high temperatures and pressures; liaison with other contractors e.g. electrician; maintenance of roof integrity i.e. sealing and bracketry; weather tightness of roof
  • Heat Pumps e.g. water source heat pump – Supervision of ground works; awareness of potential damage to ground loop post pressure test
  • Solar panels – Electrical safety especially high DC voltages; Inverter trip and failure; weather tightness of roof; penetration of roof by fire spread
  • Wind turbines – Weather tightness of roof; penetration of roof by fire spread

The highest annual recruitment requirements for craft occupations are for: wood trade and interior fit out (4,530); labourers (6,900); and painters and decorators (3,720).

Construction salaries are influenced by experience, role in the sector, the type of construction that is involved, as well as the geographic location. The following provides a guide to the average salary ranges for a selection of craft roles and applies to fully qualified and experienced people:

  • Bricklayer £23,000 – £28,500
  • Carpenter £24,000 – £31,000
  • Ceiling Fixer £22,000 – £28,000
  • Demolition Operative £17,000 – £25,000
  • Labourer £15,000 – £21,000
  • Painter & Decorator £19,500 – £25,500
  • Plant Mechanic £24,000 – £31,000
  • Plant Operator £22,000 – £28,000
  • Plasterer £21,000 – £29,500
  • Roofer £20,000 – £29,000

Source: ConstructionSkills AACS LMI report 2010 and Blueprint for UK Construction Skills 2010-2014

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Technical roles

Technicians in the construction sector support the work of engineers, architects, quantity surveyors etc. They have to use practical knowledge, but do not necessarily carry out manual tasks. Technical jobs in the sector range from: estimator; buyer; building technician; roofing technician; architectural technician; civil engineering technicians; Computer Aided Design operative; construction technician; plant technician; roofing technician; site engineer; and site inspector.

There were an 81,755 people employed in technical support occupations in the construction sector in 2008. This is forecast to decline to 72,860 in 2014. However, forecasts suggest that between 2010 and 2014, the UK annual recruitment requirements for technical staff will be 685.

Entry to the technical support careers in the construction sector is either through work and further education studies, or by completion of a qualification before entering the sector. For those choosing to gain a qualification first, then there are opportunities to complete further and professional qualifications when employed in the sector and progress to supervisory or managerial roles. Those wishing to move into technical roles will be able to transfer the skills and knowledge they have acquired in another field of the industry into technician jobs.

There are opportunities to progress in the construction sector and many people start their own companies. Career paths in the sector tend to varied as people train and begin to specialise. To progress to technician level, there are a wide range of qualifications available, many of which are industry endorsed, including: National Diploma; HNC/HND; and an NVQ Level 3 in Constructing Contracting.

Individuals employed in technical support occupations will need to understand the potentials and use of techniques, such as:

  • Airtightness – A robust primary air barrier around entire house
  • Maximisation of day lighting
  • Energy efficient ventilation
  • Zoning (thermal and lighting)
  • Efficient servicing strategy
  • Shutters, balconies and canopies
  • Vented window panels
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Solar panels to convert energy from the sun into electricity
  • Wind Turbines
  • Off-site manufacturing
  • Pod construction – The production of three dimensional elements e.g. bathroom in a factory which are delivered to site and incorporated into the building design
  • Panellised – Factory produced flat panel units which are transported to site for assembly
  • Vacuum insulation panels
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • External insulation

Construction salaries are influenced by experience, role in the sector, the type of construction that is involved, as well as the geographic location. The following provides a guide to the average salary ranges for a selection of technical support roles and applies to fully qualified and experienced people:

  • Architectural Technician £29,000 – £39,000
  • Buyer £30,800 – £36,800
  • Computer Aided Design Operative (CAD) £30,600 – £36,500
  • Construction Technician £24,200 – £34,000
  • Estimator £33,500 – £39,600
  • Plant Technician £28,000 – £36,200
  • Roofing Technician £27,500 – £33,600

Source: ConstructionSkills AACS LMI report 2010 and Blueprint for UK Construction Skills 2010-2014

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Professional and managerial roles

Professional and managerial staff in the construction sector can be involved at all stages of a construction project from the early planning stages to maintaining a building after it has been constructed. The industry covers a whole range of different roles including:

  • Design e.g. Architects, Structural Engineer, Geospatial Modeller
  • Surveying e.g. Quantity Surveyor, Building Surveyor, Hydrographic Surveyor
  • Management e.g. Construction Manager, Project Manager, Site Supervisor
  • Planning e.g. Planner, Facilities Manager, Town Planner

Professional and managerial jobs in the sector range from: senior executive, business process manager, construction manager, civil engineer, town planner, mechanical engineer, architect, surveyor, project manager, structural engineer, geospatial modeller, facilities manager

Many professional and management positions require a relevant higher education qualification. For those in craft and technical positions, there are opportunities to work and study part-time in order to progress to professional and managerial positions. Graduates will be trained for highly specialised or management positions and will have the opportunity to gain professional qualifications, such as chartered status.

Qualifications, many of which are endorsed by the industry, that can be studied to progress to professional and managerial level include: Advanced Apprenticeship; HNC/HND; Foundation Degree; and BSc, BA and BEng degrees. There are opportunities to progress further in the construction sector and many people start their own companies. Career paths in the sector tend to vary as people train and begin to specialise.

Individuals employed in professional and management occupations will need to accommodate the following features in their designs, such as:

  • Airtightness – A robust primary air barrier around entire house
  • Maximisation of day lighting
  • Energy efficient ventilation
  • Zoning (thermal and lighting)
  • Efficient servicing strategy
  • Downstairs bedrooms included in the design
  • Shutters, balconies and canopies
  • Vented window panels
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Bio-energy e.g. woodchip boilers
  • Solar panels to convert energy from the sun into electricity
  • Wind Turbines
  • Off-site manufacturing
  • Pod construction – The production of three dimensional elements e.g. bathroom in a factory which are delivered to site and incorporated into the building design
  • Panellised – Factory produced flat panel units which are transported to site for assembly
  • Vacuum insulation panels
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • External insulation

Forecasts suggest that between 2010 and 2014, the UK annual recruitment requirements for professional and management roles will be:

  • 950 Senior Executive and business process managers
  • 2,950 Construction Managers
  • 1,480 Civil Engineers
  • 685 Other construction professionals, such as Town Planners, Mechanical Engineers
  • 660 Architects
  • 830 Surveyors

Construction salaries are influenced by experience, role in the sector, the type of construction that is involved, as well as the geographical location. Salaries for those in professional and management positions are higher than the average construction worker salary because of the responsibilities of the roles. The following provides a guide to the average salary ranges for a selection of roles and applies to fully qualified and experienced people:

  • Architect £35,000 – £48,000
  • Building Control £33,000 – £41,000
  • Civil Engineer £36,000 – £42,000
  • Construction Manager £38,500 – £47,000
  • Quantity Surveyor £41,000 – £49,000
  • Structural Engineer £36,000 – £47,300
  • Surveyor £33,000 – £47,000

Source: ConstructionSkills AACS LMI report 2010 and Blueprint for UK Construction Skills 2010-2014

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