Working your way up the ladder
Construction offers a wealth of opportunities and countless careers have been built by people who started out as apprentices.
We take a look at how to make it in this ever-growing industry.
There are plenty of routes into the construction industry, with many people starting out as apprentices. This type of training, which can last anything from 1 to 4 years, allows apprentices to learn new skills from the very industry workers that use them on a daily basis .
Starting at this very basic level is by no means a barrier. On the contrary, it’s often a springboard to success. Apprentices have gone on to do exceptional things in many sectors. For example, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and founder of Graff Diamonds Laurence Graff both started as apprentices themselves. The construction industry is no exception. Those starting out will quickly find that a career in construction offers an array of opportunities to grow and develop.
From apprentice to boss
According to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), 60% of construction bosses started their careers as apprentices.
Tony Passmore, managing director of the Passmore Group, said: “I’ve been working in the construction industry for a long time now and I’ve lost count of the number of young people who I’ve seen start out at the bottom, put in the hard work during their apprenticeship, and then rise up through the ranks to set up their own firm.”
One such example is Les Owens, managing director of The Trustland Group, a commercial construction business that employs more than 50 people. He started his career with a CITB Apprenticeship in bricklaying, later taking over the family firm.
“I’m running my own business now and still get that same feeling of pride and satisfaction when I see a finished project,” he says.
A path to learning
Starting your own company isn’t the only rung on the construction career ladder. Apprenticeships are a great way to earn as you learn, and can be a route to higher education or university.
“Even if running your own firm isn’t what you aspire to do, a construction apprenticeship can nevertheless provide the foundation for a highly rewarding career,” says Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB.
“Almost 80% of our SME construction bosses said that employment in the sector offers high levels of job satisfaction with tangible results and 87% believe an apprenticeship teaches useful and practical skills.”
As apprentice joiner Stephen Parsonage says: “I’m sure I’ll have a future in construction and will either be working in joinery or possibly in site management.
“A number of former apprentices with Wynne Construction are now site managers in their 20s, so I know that’s a possibility if I work hard and prove myself. The company are really supportive of training and development and do encourage our progress.”
For those with big ambitions, the industry has the tools for you to succeed. As apprentice carpenter and mother-of-three Kim Palfrey says:
“In ten years, I’d like to be buying and selling houses, running my own business. In terms of advice, I’d say that anyone is capable. Don’t doubt yourself as it’s worthwhile in the end, and if I can do it whilst raising three children, then anyone can.”
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