The first thing you need to do when you’re looking for a job in construction is to decide what you want to do. The construction and demolition industries are split into at least 350 trade types, so there’s clearly something for everyone – the trick lies in finding that right something for you.
The construction industry is now ruled by qualifications. At every level, from trainee or basic site worker all the way up to manager, supervisor or technician, the construction worker’s progress is measured in NVQ and SVQ Levels. You’re able to qualify for colour coded CSCS Cards when you have achieved certain degrees of experience or qualification. The rule on construction sites in the UK these days is “No Card, No Job” – so get yourself involved in the CSCS as soon as you can.
Study Hard – or Work to Learn?
While the construction industry is now measured in NVQ and SVQ Levels, it still houses professions that recognise the value of on the job learning. With the exception of graduates who have followed a course of study designed to put them into managerial or supervisory roles in construction firms, most higher level construction industry staff have got there through experience and time on the job.
If you are starting out in the industry, you will be able to work your way up. Wherever you show skill and aptitude you will be rewarded with more experience and eventually a higher grade of CSCS Card. You’ll also be able to swap your experience for NVQ or SVQ Levels temporarily, while you study to achieve the real ones.
The Skilled Professions in the Construction Industry
There are a number of skilled professions within the construction industry – all of which require study and qualification for you to progress. All of these trades are quite lucrative when you get to the top end of the game: and all of them can be practised as an apprentice while you are following your NVQ or SVQ Levels to achieve your desired position. These professions tend to have their own administering bodies, all of whom have become affiliated to CSCS – so a good starting place for each one is to get in touch with those bodies and find out what you need to achieve in order to become an electrician, a plumber or an HVAC worker.
The affiliate bodies that administer the skilled professions are: ECS (for electrotechnical work); ESS (for HVAC and refrigeration); JIB-PMES (for plumbing and mechanical engineering services); and BOHS (for hazardous materials removal). BOHS is in turn administered by the HSE.
Get Out There
Plenty of construction companies will take on labourers, if you want to start with general site work. The best way to get labouring work is either by signing on at a construction specific job agency, or by visiting construction firms in person and asking for work. If you are looking for more skilled work, prepare a CV before you start putting yourself about. The NVQ or SVQ Levels you have achieved, in conjunction with your CSCS Card, will show your prospective employer what you are capable of doing.