Careers in the Housing Construction Sector

With a current skills shortage in the UK’s housing construction industry, we explore ways to build a new career after the Military.

By Alison Dando

For Service-leavers looking to lay the foundations for a new life outside of the Forces, the housing construction sector can provide plenty of career opportunities. With a current skills shortage across a wide range of trades, the industry is looking to boost its workforce and is increasingly turning to the ex-Military personnel to help fi ll the gap.

According to the National Office for Statistics, construction brings in over £90 billion every year and accounts for around 10% of total employment in the UK – that’s almost three million jobs within the building sector. The industry has traditionally been seen as a barometer of the health of the wider UK economy and while recent months have brought some fluctuations in the performance of commercial construction, the new housing sector – both private and public – remains positive.

In last November’s budget, the Chancellor announced the Government’s commitment to building 300,000 new homes every year by the mid 2020’s to ease the country’s housing shortage. This is an ambitious target and one which sees the housing construction industry needing signifi cantly more skilled workers to achieve it.

Chief Executive of The Federation of Master Builders, Brian Berry, said the housing construction sector was facing a real skills shortage among the key trades. “More than two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers, with nearly as many facing difficulties hiring carpenters and joiners. As a result, wages for increasingly scarce skilled tradespeople continue to rise.”

The Construction Skills Network recently reported that construction output is expected to grow over the next fi ve years, with around 150,000 new jobs set to be created. The trades most in demand are electricians, plasterers, plumbers, carpenters and bricklayers. There is also an increasing need for engineers, construction process managers and heavy plant operatives as well as nonconstruction professionals such as technical and IT staff.

This skills shortage offers a real opportunity for ex-Service personnel to transfer their relevant Military experience and personal qualities into a rewarding civilian career in the construction industry.

With the Army running the largest apprenticeship programme in the UK, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) views the Armed Forces as an ‘excellent source of managers, surveyors, civil engineers and tradespeople’.

Partnerships Director at CITB, Nick James, explained: “The discipline and teamwork of the Military is a great match with construction. As well as their technical abilities, Military leavers have skills in leadership and project management which are highly sought after by employers right across the building sector.”

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