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The construction industry is one of the biggest sectors in the UK, with 280,000 businesses covering 2.93 million jobs; generating nearly $105 billion to the country’s economy.

Seventy-three percent of construction firms are actively on the lookout for skilled construction workers. With such high demand, now is the time to kickstart your career in this industry. Here, MIDFIX look at why young people should consider working in construction, the different routes available, and how industry preconceptions can be removed.

Why Work in Construction?

Careers in construction vary widely. There are plenty of opportunities depending on your skills, From contractors, producers, architects, engineers to builders. That’s the great thing about a career in construction: the sheer range of jobs available means there’s something for everyone. So whether your skills lie in planning, project management, or practical work, you can guarantee that there’s an exciting opportunity for you in this industry.

Generate Interest Early

The biggest issue currently faced by the construction industry is a shortage of skills, which has resulted in increased rates and delayed projects.

One quarter of the current construction workforce are aged 50 and over, and 400,000 employers are planning on retiring in the next decade.

To tackle an aging workforce, the simple solution is to get more young people to enter the industry. However, it’s not that easy: many young people aren’t interested in a career in construction. Why? Well, while many industries speak with school children prior to their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GSCE) exams, the construction industry don’t have the same level of visibility.

Perhaps it’s this reason why there are so many misconceptions around the industry. Sadly, many young people are choosing not to enter the construction industry as it’s seen as dull, with jobs available only for the “unskilled”. That’s why it’s vital for those in the industry to speak with young people to explain the variety of jobs available.

Routes into the Construction Trade

There are several routes into a career in the construction trade, and which one you opt for will largely depend on the job you choose.

Welding and fabrication jobs require candidates who have undergone a relevant apprenticeship or some other form of training.

Civil engineers require a variety of skills: you’ll need to combine technical knowledge with design and mathematical skills, while having strong communication and project management skills.

Apprenticeships and Professional Qualifications

The government has pledged to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, meaning there are excellent opportunities available to become trained in construction.

If you’d like to enter the construction industry through an apprenticeship, then you’ll be at school for approximately 20% of your time, and working for 80% of the time, where you’ll be mentored by an experienced employee.

There are so many construction-related apprenticeships available, including welding and site supervision. You can choose from a variety of levels – level 2 is the lowest, and is equivalent to GCSEs, while levels 6 and 7 are comparable to a bachelor’s or master’s degree. You can find out more about the different types of apprenticeships here.

For a career in civil engineering, you’ll need to have the relevant degree. To become a fully chartered engineer, you’ll require further study, many large employers have graduate development programs in place to support your early career.

Removing Industry Preconceptions

Often young people don’t consider a career in construction: schools, parents, employers and professional institutions have a role to play to educate young people about the opportunities available in the industry.

One major issue that needs overcoming is the lack of gender diversity in construction. A recent survey revealed that 65% of participants claimed their company’s workforce was made up of less than 5% of women.

Only 1% of workers are female, resulting in the launch of the #GirlsAllowed campaign. This initiative sees construction companies visiting local schools and speaking to young girls, to educate them on the career opportunities available. This education must start early on, in order to encourage young women to continue studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects.

There are plenty of career prospects in the industry. There is a huge volume of new build and refurbishment projects taking place across the UK, such as refurbishments to Big Ben and Westminster, the expansion of Brent Cross shopping centre, and the creation of HS2 – a high-speed railway better connecting the north and the south.

There are also plenty of opportunities to work abroad.

A Look at the Future and Wealth of Opportunities in Construction

Imagine working in an industry where you get to shape your surroundings and infrastructure. Those pot holes on the road, the dirty water in the river - a career in construction will give you the ability to influence where you live, work and play.

With so many opportunities regardless of your skillset, now’s the time to consider building your career in construction.