Joining the UK construction industry
The UK building industry is growing. Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in nearly 50 years and growth is expected in a number of key areas of the industry. As with any job, working in construction can be hard but it can also be hugely rewarding, whether you’re on site or behind a desk.
Here is our guide to how to work in the UK construction industry if you are an overseas worker.
What's so good about it?
In the next five years, over 225,000 construction jobs in the UK are expected to be created. Across the industry, this means many new roles will need to be filled. With skills shortages throughout the industry, there has never been a better time to join British building.
From painters to plumbers, the construction industry needs more skilled workers. As well as on-site roles, the industry will also need people to fill the wide range of positions in the supporting services. Whatever qualification you have, you'll probably find a role within the construction industry.
What's in it for me?
Excellent standards in construction
The UK construction industry is renowned for the high standards expected from both its workers and its employers. Within the industry, there is a strong ethos of on-site health and safety and the well-being of employees being held in high regard. The industry also offers excellent working conditions and wages for all workers, regardless of level within the industry.
Value for workers' skills
Overseas workers are highly valued in all areas of the UK’s construction industry, and it can offer you a long and rewarding career. Depending on your employer, you may also be able to undertake additional training to learn cutting-edge skills, helping you to further your career in the long-term.
An inclusive industry
British building is an inclusive industry and it promotes the importance of a diverse workforce. The old stereotype of construction being a ‘man’s job’ is starting to disappear as more and more women are choosing a long term, successful career in construction.
There has long been a misconception that construction is old-fashioned when it comes to diversity. Nowadays, this is definitely not the case as many UK construction firms promote diversity in the workplace, both on and off site.
UK employers draw on the skills of people from a wide range of backgrounds to make the most of different ways of working. This means that a culture of acceptance, respect and collaboration is being cultivated within the workplace.
Don't take our word for it
We have many stories from people working in construction across the UK, from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Discover what it’s really like to have a job in construction today.
How do I get started?
To work in the UK, you'll need to have a current UK work visa. There are a variety of UK working visas, work permits and passports available that will enable you to legally work in the UK. Each of these comes with its own eligibility requirements and restrictions, so you need to make sure you research carefully which one you'll need.
In some cases, you may need to have secured a skilled job and to have been sponsored before you can apply for you UK work visa. If this is the case, the work you do in the UK must relate to the work of the organisation sponsoring you. You can find out more about sponsorship from the UK Government's website.
It is illegal to work in the UK if you don’t have the right to do so. Anyone caught working illegally may face a prison sentence, and there would be severe consequences for your employer as well. It's important to prove that you are eligible to work in the UK to prevent this.
Your skills, qualifications and work experience are often transferable to many areas of the construction industry. Many international qualifications are already recognised by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS).
Who are UK ENIC?
UK ENIC is the national agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills. The agency will review your qualification and decide whether it is comparable to a UK qualification. They will also decide whether it is appropriate to your occupation and to the job you are applying for.
What if my qualification isn't recognised?
If you have a construction-related qualification that was awarded outside the UK and that is not currently recognised by the CSCS, you should contact UK ENIC.
Who are UK NARIC?
UK NARIC is the national agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills. The agency will review your qualification and decide whether it is comparable to a UK qualification. They will also decide whether it is appropriate to your occupation and to the card you are applying for.
How can the construction industry help me?
Workers with English as a second language can still gain a CSCS card and be eligible to work in the UK construction industry. The Construction Skills, Health, Safety and Environment test is an essential qualification for those wishing to work on a construction site.
For those with limited English, the test can be taken in a variety of languages or with the help of an interpreter.
Some larger construction employers may even use multi-lingual supervisors to translate instructions and guidance into their workers’ first language, so it means that you are still able to take and complete the test to get the relevant card.
What should I do next?
Research UK companies that have international offices, they’ll be able to help you with contact information.
Contact companies to see what they could offer, including sponsorship if you're outside the UK.
Get your documents ready and make sure that all the paperwork is complete before starting your career
Explore careers in construction
The UK construction industry has a huge number of different opportunities for workers from overseas. We have all the information here needed for you to make a start in construction, including guides for over 170 different job roles.