For Parents and Educators

Choosing a career path is as daunting as it is exciting which is why young people often trust their parents, teachers and mentors to give them guidance and advice.

As with any other career anyone considering a career in construction is bound to have a huge amount of questions and Building Cornwall want to help you to give them responsible, honest answers to some frequently asked questions. We would also like to respond to some of the concerns you might have about an industry that is sometimes portrayed in a negative light.

If you’d like more information please feel free to get in touch with Inga Geach or have a look at some of the fantastic Go Construct resources. Their Careers and Educational Resource Toolkits include a range of educational and interactive activities for people of all ages.

Why choose Construction?

People who work in construction take an active role in helping to shape the world around them. This is the industry that dreams up, designs and builds schools, hospitals, homes. Construction creates the infrastructure that supports our villages, towns and cities. By working in construction, you become a part of this hugely important work that helps to drive the economy forward.

Construction is also a sector which suits people from a multitude of backgrounds boasting a wide range of different skills.

But doesn't everyone in the industry start on a construction site?

Not at all, this is a huge misconception. There are more than 150 jobs in the industry based in a range of different locations. You can find yourself working on site, in an office, in a workshop, even from your home.

How can I help my child get into Construction?

There are lots of pathways into construction so it’s important to tailor your advice to suit the age of your child.

If you are supporting a young person who is about to finish their GCSEs, there are a range of options.

First try to work out their end goal – the dream job.

If this involves further training, you might want to suggest they look at A-levels which would help them get a place on a degree course to suit that career choice.

A-levels in maths and science could help them with securing a university place to study things like engineering for example.

From 2020, T-levels will also provide a great academic alternative for young people who already know which industry they would like to work in.

Some roles do not require formal qualifications.

If you have a child who plans to leave school after GCSEs, there are still plenty of opportunities available to them.

A construction apprenticeship can help them get hands-on experience fast and give them a chance to earn while they learn with extra training.

If your child has completed a degree course and now needs help finding a job, consider looking at graduate programmes and work experience placements with big construction companies.

Many organisations offer traineeships to young people looking to start work.

What are the long-term prospects?

Construction never stands still. And neither will your career.

There are lots of opportunities to develop your skills and access on-the-job training in construction. There’s no shortage of new construction jobs in the UK either, with the industry set to need more and more skilled people in future.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) predicts that the construction industry will need almost a quarter of a million extra workers between now and 2019. That’s around 45,000 more construction vacancies each year.  This means that construction companies will be short staffed and there will be more openings for people with all sorts of skills.

There is a range of ‘Day in the life’ case studies you can look at to find out more.

These stories include a young man called Cheston Stanley who is being sponsored by his current employer to work while studying part-time for a degree in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management to improve his prospects.

They also feature a woman called Rebecca Gill who used her talent for DIY to secure a traineeship in painting and decorating, with her sights set on one day running her own business.

What about the salary?

In Cornwall, the construction sector is the best paying industry but salaries will vary depending on the role you choose to pursue. According to Go Construct, the average salary for a bricklayercarpenter or joiner is £10,000 to £30,000. The average quantity surveyor earns in the region of £32,000 and £45,000. A fully trained architect earns in excess of £50,000. An experienced civil engineer can expect to earn £60,000 or more while a Project Director can earn £90,000 or more.

The more training you do, the faster your career will progress and the more you will earn.

I have a daughter and am worried she might feel outnumbered my men.

Women make up around 14% of construction professionals and 1% of construction workers on site. These numbers may seem low, but the picture is set to change.

After all, there has been a national push in recent years to encourage and support women in the sector and there are a number of prominent role models to look up to.

These include strong women of the past including Hedy Lamarr who invented a remote-controlled communications system for the U.S military during World War II and Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-born British architect who was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

And those of the present including Suzannah Nichol, Chief Executive of the National Specialist Contractors’ Council and Christine Townley, Executive Director at the Construction Youth Trust.

All of these have played a part in shaping the future of construction for other young women.

Go Construct’s ‘Day in the life’ section features lots of case studies from women working in the industry. Read about how Katie Evans became a Lead Digital Engineer, find out how Fahmeda Salik came to pursue a career in administration and why Christabelle Paradzai loves her job as a site technician.

The industry is working very hard to make it attractive to all and key to ensure that nobody feels discriminated against.

This extends to embracing diversity in the workplace. Sexist, racist and homophobic language or behaviour is never tolerated.

Thanks to initiatives like the Considerate Construction Scheme, employers follow a strict code of practice designed to encourage best practice.

What about disability?

Again, this is not an issue.

In the construction industry we strive to build environments that are accessible to all.

By employing people with disabilities or those who have experience of caring for people with different needs, we are better placed to design buildings which achieve this.

In 2009 CITB launched a campaign called Net Ambitions to encourage more people with disabilities into the industry.

These included Ray Goddard who was a bricklayer for 10 years until he fell from a ladder and suffered a severe fracture to his hand which he never fully recovered from.

He retrained as an assessor and now trains other bricklayers.

Jeremy Cross is another example. With numerous learning difficulties he found it difficult to work in a job requiring a lot of reading and writing. However, he found he had a natural talent for carpentry and has since found full-time employment with a company that supports him in the areas he struggles with.

I'm worried my child won't be safe on a construction site.

The UK construction industry is the safest in Europe.

On a construction site, health and safety is the most important priority at all times. Noise, dust, dirt and dangerous materials are all carefully controlled by safe working systems, safety signs and risk assessment.

Most jobs in construction require health and safety training too so anyone going on site must go through a proper induction.

One of Go Construct’s latest campaigns ‘Pride and Joy’ is specifically aimed at parents to help their children find a career they love and build a future to be proud of. They asked construction workers to bring their parents to work for the day.

Watch below to see what happened.