Construction is one of the UK’s fastest growing industries and thanks to the range of projects going on at any one time, it’s also one of the most challenging and exciting to work in. To get you started have a look at some of the ways you can get into the industry, gain new qualifications and progress your career.
You can get into and progress in the construction industry in a variety of ways and with a variety of entry qualifications, which may depend on your age and experience. Your qualifications may have been gained at school or in a previous job. Personal skills and qualities are also important such as good communication skills, teamwork and time management. For many construction jobs you will be able to show your skills and gain or extend your qualifications while working in the industry. Here are some useful qualifications for you to consider.
An apprenticeship combines off-the-job learning with on-site experience. It allows you to learn the skills for your role while working toward the right qualifications. Apprenticeships are highly valued by employers. You need to be in full-time employment with a construction company to be able to complete an apprenticeship, meaning you are earning as you learn. Apprenticeships are offered at craft, technical and higher levels meaning that you can continue to progress your career if you wish.
These types qualifications show that you have the skills to do the job in line with National Occupational Standards, and are gained while you work. They often, but not always, form part of an apprenticeship and run from level one, covering basic work skills, up to senior management levels.
They’re assessed in several ways and you may be asked to show a portfolio of work or be observed at work by an assessor.
Experienced workers who don’t have NVQs or SVQs and are returning to the industry after a long break can demonstrate their abilities through either an on-site assessment workshop or the experienced worker practical assessment.
Higher National Certificates (HNCs), Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Degrees
These qualifications can be studied full-time at university or part time while you are in a construction related role. They can form part of a Higher or Degree Apprenticeship in England; Wales and Scotland have similar qualifications.
If you aleady have a degree which is not directly related to the construction industry you may need to take a construction conversion course and gain work experience but some areas of the business may not require you to do this. Construction companies often need people with marketing or business development degrees for example or IT/digital experts.
Industry skill certification / competency cards
If you want to show that you are skilled in a certain occupation in construction, then these card schemes prove that you have the right skills and training. TheConstruction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) is the most well-known of these, but others are available.
There are several types of CSCS cards and the one that you apply for depends on the work you’ll be doing and the NVQs or SVQs that you hold. The Construction Plant Competence Scheme is an example of a card scheme for a specific occupation. See a full list of the main schemes.
There are two ways of getting a CSCS card. You can apply directly at cscs.uk.com by following the steps and paying a small fee, or your employer may be able to take care of this for you.
If you have qualifications apart from NVQs or SVQs and can’t get a CSCS card, the SKILLcard or SCORE card can be a good alternative.
Health, safety and environment test
Before you can apply for a CSCS card, SKILLcard or SCORE card you’ll need to have passed a health, safety and environment test in the past two years. This makes sure you know how to stay safe on site while keeping others safe. There are four types of test, including operative, labourer, specialist, and managers and professionals. The one you take depends on the type of job you’ll be doing and the CSCS card you’re applying for.
Vicky WelchScaffolder at Ezee Scaffolding
Vicky Welch began an apprenticeship in scaffolding after job hunting, and never looked back. After spending almost five years on-site, putting up scaffolding on council projects, she took a course in estimating and surveying. This helped her build knowledge of the accounting and business side of the job, which she needed to move her career ahead.
Construction was something I never thought I'd get involved in