Building A Career In Construction

Building A Career In Construction

By Ed Hanna

Many Service-leavers have experience of working on Military construction projects. We look at the key transferable skills they need to continue to build their career on civvy street.

By Alison Dando

The UK’s construction industry has certainly been through some turbulent times. Knocked by the 2008 recession, the industry has, however, steadily been building itself back up, despite the shadow of Brexit and uncertainty across the sector.

Buoyed by increasing demand for residential properties – the Government has committed to building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s – and major infrastructure projects such as the UK’s road improvement strategy, Crossrail and Heathrow’s third runway, the construction sector is now in a state of cautious optimism.

As a key employer, the construction industry currently generates around £90 billion a year for the UK economy. And with a growing demand for more skilled workers, especially as the country moves to more digital and environmentally cleaner technology, the industry offers Veterans with experience of construction projects a significant opportunity to lay the foundations for a civilian career.

Predicted skills shortage

Current estimates indicate a 3% growth in UK construction output over the next 12 months, levelling off to a more modest average of 1.3% over the next four years. However, even these conservative growth estimates represent a staffing challenge for the sector, which the industry is now working to address.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), which drives forward training and recruitment for the sector, estimates that around 168,500 construction jobs will need to be created over the next five years to meet the various building targets, more than had been originally predicted. If achieved, then the CITB believes that construction employment in the UK could top 2.79m by 2023, just 2% short of its peak before the 2008 recession.

To support the construction industry to tackle this skills gap, the CITB has recently invested £17.8m to help train 18,000 on-site ready workers and to support employers to grow their own workforce. The trades most in demand are plasterers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and bricklayers, while there is also an increasing need for IT experts, engineers and heavy plant operatives.

“Meeting demand for new homes and investing in infrastructure requires more skilled people in construction,” says CITB Chief Executive, Sarah Beale. “We face the perfect storm of an uncertain post-Brexit migration system, and an ageing workforce with many set to retire in the near future. It is therefore essential that the industry attracts, trains, and retains new talent wherever it can be found to ensure construction isn’t hampered by a shortage of site-ready workers.”

Transferable skills

The opportunity to recruit construction and engineering professionals from the Military is certainly not lost on the sector, with the CITB-funded initiative Go Construct, highlighting the invaluable skills a Veteran can bring to the construction industry.

Not only can ex-Service personnel offer the relevant construction or engineering skills and qualifications, there are also a host of personal qualities honed in the Military that make them the ideal solution to plugging the construction skills gap. Teamwork, leadership, logistical planning, large scale project management as well as discipline, and commitment are just some of the attributes that are attracting recruiters to Military construction workers coming out of the Forces. Other Military disciplines such as IT, engineering, logistics, transport and administration also have a crossover to the civilian construction industry.

Go Construct now aims to support employers to tap into the ex-Forces recruitment market as well as providing a wealth of guidance and advice for former Service personnel looking to transfer their skills and experience into the civilian construction sector.

To find out more, visit:

Is construction the civilian career for you?

With certain construction trades in real demand, pay and career opportunities are favourable for Serviceleavers; whether it’s working for an established construction company or working for yourself. If re-training is required, there are plenty of ways to get your civilian CV up to scratch, either via an adult apprenticeship, full-time study or work-based learning.

We take a look at four different career opportunities to give you a flavour of how you could construct a new career after the Military.

Construction Manager

Role: As a construction manager, you will be responsible for the practical side of planning for and managing each stage of the building process.

Entry requirements: A degree or Higher National Diploma/Certificate in construction, civil engineering, building surveying or construction management.

Earning potential: Newly trained – £25-£35,000. With experience – up to £48,000. Senior managers can earn up to £60,000.

Field Technician Role: Field technicians are the trouble-shooters of the construction site – testing, repairing and servicing technical equipment.

Entry requirements: To get on an apprenticeship or training programme you will need at least five GCSEs grade 9-4 (A* – C) or equivalent, in science-based subjects, maths, design or technology.

Earning potential: Newly trained – £17 – £25,000. Experienced field technicians can earn up to £40,000, with senior roles attracting a £40,000+ salary.

Highways Engineer Role: As a highways engineer you will be part of a crucial maintenance team that keeps our roads in a healthy condition as well as to help build new ones.

Entry requirements: Entry level is 4-5 standard grade GCSEs (or equivalent). You can then choose workbased training or even opt to complete a civil engineering degree.

Earning potential: Newly trained and trained with experience – £25 £30,000. Senior engineers/civil engineers – around £40,000+.

Plant Mechanic Role: As a plant mechanic you will be part of the team repairing and maintaining giant machinery out on building sites.

Entry requirements: No minimum qualifications, although GSCEs in maths and English will help. An apprenticeship is then the most common route to qualify, giving you hands-on experience as you train. Specialist equipment training may also be required.

Earning potential: Newly trained – £20-£30,000. Experienced plant mechanics can earn £30-40,000 while senior roles can offer a salary of £40,000+.

Details of more construction jobs and careers can be found at: