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Construction and the Built Environment

The Job Market

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General Construction

  • According to the Construction Industry Training Board, nearly 2 million people (1 in 14 of the UK workforce) work in construction and the built environment.

  • Of those working in construction, at least 2 out of 5 work in the skilled trades such as electricians, carpenters and plumbers. Most of these trained on a Apprenticeship. Only about 1% of trade workers are female but the industry wants more!

  • Most employers are small businesses, with a large percentage of self employed compared with many other work sectors

  • The construction industry is particularly sensitive to the economic cycle and so has suffered during the recent recession. Publicly funded projects are likely to continue to suffer, unless the money has already been put aside. Privately funded projects are sometimes funded from overseas money so in some cases may not be affected. 

  • Government figures show the number of young people in construction has halved since 2008 but the number aged 60 and over is virtually unchanged. 

Architecture, surveying and planning

  • Most architects work in private practice as partners, associates and salaried architects.  Private practice range from small firms with just one architect to large firms with up to 50 architects. Architects in the public sector (such as local councils) have been badly affected by the recession. Architectural technicians/technologists work in the private sector (e.g. architecture practices and manufacturers) and the public sector.

  • For surveyors In the private sector, employers include surveying practices, property companies, estate agents, and large organisations which own land. In the public sector, employers include local authorities and hospital trusts. Surveying technicians are employed throughout the UK, but there are more jobs in large cities. There is considerable competition for graduate jobs with leading surveying firms.

  • Planners are employed by both the public sector (including environmental charities) and private sector (such as house builders, supermarket chains and water companies), Local authorities and government departments employ the majority of town planning support staff.

  • Building services. There is a shortage of engineers in the building services industry as a whole, and there are opportunities for refrigeration engineers in all areas of the UK. Air conditioning is a growing area of work.

  • Heating and ventilating engineers are employed by specialist mechanical and electrical contractors and consultancies across the UK, with a concentration in London and the South East.

  • Building services engineers work for design consultancies, major building services contractors and organisations such as local authorities, government departments, hospitals, factories and power stations. There is a shortage of qualified engineers in this field.

  • Thermal insulation engineers Employers include large construction companies and specialist subcontractors in construction and in other areas of industry, such as petrochemical plants, oil refineries and power stations. There is currently a demand for skilled workers. 

  • The cavity wall insulation business is made up of firms of varying sizes, some large and some very small. Most firms are located in urban areas. Many cavity wall insulation technicians are self-employed

Civil and Structural engineers

  • Civil and structural engineering employers include civil and structural engineering consultancy companies, building and civil engineering contractors, local and central government, transport authorities, rail operators and gas and electricity supply companies. Jobs are available nationwide. There are also good opportunities for experienced engineers to work abroad, especially in countries with growing economies, such as Brazil and India.