Careers in Construction

The construction sector has proved a good choice for Service-leavers in recent years and it is expected to grow in the near future, with roles to suit people from a range of Military backgrounds.

By Gary Buswell

The construction industry is in good shape. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the sector is expected to grow with the creation of around 224,000 new jobs over the next fi ve years. The demands of a growing population plus the need to upgrade facilities and infrastructure has seen an increase in housebuilding, private commercial and public work that is set to continue. With a cross-party commission report earlier this month concluding that England needs three million more social homes by 2030 – more than were built in the two decades following the Second World War – growth in the sector could continue for some time to come.

The industry is still awaiting clarity regarding the nature of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. But while a no-deal Brexit poses risks to the economy and the ability to source overseas materials, the most likely effect on the industry is restrictions on freedom of movement. With 30% of construction businesses saying they’re reliant on EU workers, losing access to the European labour market could make the already troublesome skills shortages in the sector even worse.

Service-leavers are ideally placed to plug emerging gaps and fi ll some of the newly created posts. With transferable and technical skills developed in the Forces well suited to the construction environment, a rewarding and exciting new career could be around the corner.

Skills that Serviceleavers can bring to the job

Your life in the Military will have equipped you with several key skills essential for a career in construction. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been involved in building or haven’t done construction technical training. The industry offers a wide variety of roles both off-site and on-site, ranging from management and planning to IT and customer support.

Skills that Service-leavers can bring to roles in construction include:

  • Decision-making – the ability to stay cool under pressure and make difficult choices based on available information.
  • Leadership – essential for the many senior and project management roles on offer.
  • Teamwork – nothing teaches you more about cooperation than the Military, and it will be a valuable asset when working alongside others on a construction project.
  • Organisation and attention to detail – building projects, much like Military operations, require good planning and a meticulous approach.
  • Communication – your Forces career will have taught you to respond to and relay information effectively.
  • Risk management – working to minimise accidents and an understanding of health & safety is a key attribute.

What opportunities are there for Service-leavers?

There are a number of organisations, companies and alliances that actively recruit ex-Forces personnel or provide them with support into construction jobs. These include:

BuildForce – an alliance of construction employers, industry bodies and charities working on a government-backed scheme to match Service leavers to job opportunities and provide them with mentoring, training and work placements.

Careers Transition Partnership – provides resettlement services for those leaving the Forces and has partnered with the construction sector to offer careers and training advice.

Crest Nicholson – runs a Site Management Academy as well as offering potential career paths to other roles such as project manager and build manager.

Barratt Homes – offers an Armed Forces Transition Programme to become an Assistant Site Manager, as well as sponsored degree programmes in construction or quantity surveying.

Persimmon – offers a “Combat to Construction” NVQ Traineeship as well as direct employment opportunities. Construction employers that actively support Military
recruitment include:

  • Amey
  • Babcock
  • Balfour Beatty Construction
  • Costain
  • GallifordTry
  • Kier
  • Laing O’Rourke
  • Morrisson Utility Services
  • Saint-Gobain
  • Skanska
  • Sunseeker

Roles and requirements

There are all sorts of career opportunities available to suit various interests and skill-sets, from entry level posts to senior management roles. The type of role you’re considering, along with your skills and experience, will determine whether you can go straight in or will need training. Training programmes vary from those that last a few weeks (e.g. Foundation Property Maintenance Course) to full degree programmes (which are required for some specialist engineering posts).

Examples of posts suitable for Service-leavers include:

Site Manager – involves management of projects and on-site teams, suitable for those with leadership skills. Can be accessed through short training programmes or work placements for those with the right skills. Professional on-the-job qualifications and Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) membership can assist further career progression. Salary range – £28,000 to £59,000.

Civil Engineer – involves the design, planning and maintenance of buildings,
roads, railways, etc. Perfect for those with an engineering or technical Military background. Those with the right experience can fast-track into employment without the need for training or studying. Salary range – £25,000 to £50,000+,
depending on level.

Sales Advisor – perhaps not the most obvious job you’d associate with construction, but most companies have sales, marketing and customer service teams with jobs at all levels, often with no or minimal training required. Salary range – £16,000 to £60,000 for senior management roles.

Health & Safety Advisor – involves ensuring that working practices comply with safety standards and legislation. Suitable for anyone with skills such as attention to detail and risk management. Salary range – £20,000 to £40,000 (£70,000 to £80,000 for the most senior roles).

General Construction Operative entry-level job for those who want to gain experience of basic construction site work as well as learn new skills and access training. Salary range – £15,000 to £20,000, can progress to higher salaries with more training and experience.

How to get started

One of the easiest ways to start off is through the BuildForce programme, which has helped hundreds of Service-leavers into construction careers since starting two years ago. All Service-leavers and Veterans can sign up for free and receive an assessment, individual training programme and mentor support.

You can visit: www.buildforce.org.uk or email: info@buildforce.org.uk for more information.

Other useful resources

Careers Transition Partnership

Visit: www.ctp.org.uk or call the Central Support Team on tel: 0121 236 0058

Building Heroes

Visit: www.buildingheroes.org.uk or tel: 01798 874521

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