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A Simple Guide To Become An Apprentice Within The Construction Industry

A Simple Guide To Become An Apprentice Within The Construction Industry

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A great way to get into the industry is via an apprenticeship which will put you working in the industry right from the start. This means you can learn from experienced professionals, gain trade contacts, develop relationships, build transferable skills through on and off job training. You will have a business set up behind your efforts who will guide and support you.


What's the benefits of a Apprenticeship?

1. Earn while you learn from day one!

Apprenticeships are indeed real jobs, meaning you will get paid while your are learning. You will have training provided and you will still earn a wage. If you're aged 16-18 you'll most likely receive the apprentice minimum wage, this wage will increase as you get older, develop further skills and gain qualification levels.

2. No experience needed

While some apprentices have education requirements such as A Levels or GCSEs this is not always the case also experience is not needed for an apprenticeship.


3. Kickstart your career, regardless of background

The government are working hard and are committed to ensuring that everyone is able to benefit from the life changing opportunities of an apprentice. Apprenticeships are opening the door to professions that used to only be an option for people with a traditional degree.

4. Learn from experts!

With an apprenticeship you’ll be working in the industry right from the start. This means you can learn from the best in the business, gain contacts and develop transferable skills through on- and off- the job training. You will also be learning new skills from experienced members of staff.

5. Highly valued by employers

Apprentices allow businesses to grow their own talent. High quality employers are now designing apprenticeships to meet their skills needs, so you can trust that you’ll end up with the skills and experience employers want and that will enable you to progress in your career.

6. Develop your skills

Becoming an apprentice will allow you to develop your skills while being paid, this is a little bit of a win-win and is a great incentive to get started as an apprentice to take the opportunity to develop skills and achieve recognised qualifications.

An apprenticeship is the best route into construction trades and practical jobs as the apprentice achieves work based learning and site experience that employers want. However, an apprenticeships aren’t just for trade routes; they also cover technical apprenticeships, giving you a route into lots of different professions, including engineering, surveying and management.

There are two routes you can follow when becoming an apprentice:

The Apprenticeship route

•covers a combination of relevant qualifications/skills

•involves attending off-the-job learning (e.g. at college/training provider) and working on site to gain your S/NVQ

•makes you qualified and work ready.

The Full-time college route

- does not provide a full apprenticeship

- often covers a qualification such as a Diploma but does not lead to an S/NVQ as that can only be achieved in the workplace.

Some employers like to employ students after one year at college and transfer them onto an apprenticeship scheme.

What craft apprentices are there?

  • Ceiling fixer
  • Demolition operative
  • Floor layer
  • Form worker
  • Mastic asphalter
  • Painter and decorator
  • Plant operator
  • Plasterer
  • Roof slater and tiler
  • Scaffolder
  • Shopfitter
  • Steeplejack
  • Stonemason
  • Aircon
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Heating
  • Glazer
  • and many more

Individual employers and training providers will have their own entry requirements and may also conduct their own interviews and assessments.

Achievements in key subjects or qualifications such as maths and English are highly encouraged.

With a wide variety of craft and specialist trades, there are jobs and environments to suit most people.


You may wish to point out and group some of the occupations into those that require:

•predominantly indoor working e.g. floor layer, ceiling fixer

•predominantly outdoor working e.g. demolition operative, bricklayer, roof slater and tiler, mastic asphalter

artistic skills e.g. stonemason, painter and decorator, fibrous plasterer

a good head for heights e.g. roof slater and tiler, steeplejack, scaffolder.

Chanel Littleton

–  Intermediate & Advanced Apprenticeship in Plant Mechanics


“I always had a fascination with how machines work.
I sent my CV to around 50 companies but then I received a letter from Clee Hill Plant offering me an interview - and
I got the job.
I think I have proved many people wrong about women doing this job and my fight to get it was worth it. I want to pass on my knowledge to
up-and-coming apprentices.”

Any advice about joining the construction industry?  

"Do what I did and just go for it. If you have a passion for something, just do it. The construction industry always needs people to join and learn the hands on skills. If you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty and want to learn how to make or fix things and have a positive outcome at the end, the construction industry is the way to go."


Technical Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships aren’t just for trade routes; they also cover technical apprenticeships, giving you a route into lots of different professions, including engineering, surveying and management.

  • design
  • surveying
  • civil/site engineering
  • building control
  • buying
  • estimating
  • planning
  • site technical support.

What qualifications are needed to become an apprentice?

Individual employers may have specific entry requirements but generally for technical apprenticeships you will need at least the following.

England: one or more of these entry requirement must be achieved:

  • Functional Skills English and maths at Level 2.
  • A-Levels and/or GCSEs with A–C grades in English and maths.
  • An Intermediate or Advanced Apprenticeship.

Wales: one or more of these entry requirements must be achieved:

  • A-Levels and/or GCSEs with A–C grades in English or Welsh, and maths.
  • Essential skills – application of number and communication.
  • A Foundation Level 2 or Apprenticeship Level 3.
  • Welsh Baccalaureate national qualification.

Scotland

  • Standard grades or National 4 or 5 grades, including maths and English, are advisable but not mandatory.
  • Core skills in information and communication technology at Level 5 are advisable but not mandatory.

Higher / Degree Apprentices

A higher apprenticeship, also called level 4 or 5 apprenticeships, are the level above advanced (level 3) and intermediate (level 2) apprenticeships. Higher apprentices work for a company, receiving on-the-job training while the study towards a qualification on the side and gaining professional recognition.

They enable entrants to the industry to move more quickly into management roles where a further skills shortage is emerging while still working in the same way as other apprenticeships in that you are employed full time, study part time (usually at a college or a higher education institute such as a university) and cover a combination of qualifications and skills.

They can also be good alternative to traditional university studies as, in the majority of cases, your employer will pay your college or university fees.

Higher  Apprenticeships - England

  • Earning and learning– the same as a traditional apprenticeship.
  • An alternative route to traditional university studies.
  • Higher Apprenticeships in construction include Levels 4 and 5 HNC/HND or Foundation Degrees.
  • Degree Apprenticeships in construction include bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Entry requirements can include having an Level 3 Advanced or Technical Apprenticeship (England) or appropriate experience of working in the construction sector and GCSE Grade A-C in Maths and English or equivalent and a proficiency in spoken English.

Providers include Leeds College of Building, Greenwich University, Middlesex University, New College Nottingham and South MidKent College.

For further information on Higher Apprenticeships, please see this.

Examples of Higher Apprenticeships include:

  • Level 4 NVQ in Construction and Building Services Management and Supervision, supported by a Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Level 5 NVQ in Construction Operations Management, supported by a Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • Level 5 Foundation degree in Professional Practice in Construction Operations Management.

Degree Apprenticeships - England

The main difference between Higher and Degree Apprenticeships is that Degree Apprenticeships include a Honours degree as an integral part of the apprenticeship. Current Degree Apprenticeships in Construction & the Built Environment start with an Honours degree and allow for progression through to include a Masters Degree (Level 7)

Apprentices will split their time between university study and the workplace and will be employed throughout the course, eventually gaining a full bachelor’s or master’s degree.

The university study element of the apprenticeship may be distance learning or a blend of distance, face to face, group and e-learning.

The degree is co-designed by employers to make sure they are relevant for industry.

Entry requirements for Degree Apprentices.

  • Completed Construction Operations Management at Level 5 or other construction sector-related qualifications, or candidates will have significant (at least 5 years) experience of working in the construction sector at supervisory level.
  • Need to be in full time work (voluntary or paid) in a construction and built environment related role.

For further information on Higher Apprenticeships, please see this.

Current Degree Apprenticeships currently include (offered by Middlesex University) -

  • BA Hons Professional Practice in Construction Site Management (suitable for construction managers or commercial managers)
  • BA Hons Professional Practice in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management

Higher / Degree Apprenticeships - Wales

Higher Apprenticeships in Wales include:

  • Level 4 in Construction Site Supervision
  • Level 5 in Construction Management Sustainability
  • Level 6 in Construction Site Management.
  • Higher Apprenticeships in Wales are delivered through further education (FE) colleges. FE colleges that will deliver Higher Apprenticeships are in the process of being identified in Wales.

Modern Technical Apprenticeships - Scotland

at SVQ Level 4 or SCQF Level 8 or above

This works in the same way as other apprenticeships in that you are employed full time, study part time and cover a combination of qualifications/skills, this can be good alternative to traditional university studies as in the majority of cases your employer will pay your college/university fees.

Career Skills e.g. business admin/customers services are also part of the requirement of this apprenticeship framework and are separately certificated.

Examples include:

  • Construction Site Management
  • Construction Contracting Operations
  • Built Environment Design
  • Controlling Lifting Operations

Providers delivering these apprenticeships include private training providers and Further Education Colleges. Please enquire with local providers to check provision.

How to approach an employer from an Apprenticeship?

Research the industry in general.

Some people say they want to work in construction but, when questioned, can’t say which trade they want. There are lots of occupations outside the well-known ones like bricklaying, joinery and painting and decorating. Carrying out research will not only help you decide which skills match your interests, but you will also be able to talk more confidently about the industry to prospective employers.

Put a good CV together.

CV advice and a CV builder can be found on:

Make sure that your CV clearly states what position youare looking for and says something about why you are interested in construction and this role inparticular.

Use web searches, newspapers and research your local area to find suitable companies.

When looking for a construction apprenticeship you need to consider companies of all sizes. This includes:

  • Doing internet searches (larger companies may have online application systems and dedicated careers webpages)
  • Finding local tradespeople/construction companies by looking for the promotional boards at construction sites or noting down the details on their vans.
  • Building a database from details in local free papers, directories and leaflets that come through the door.

The first couple of calls and visits may be daunting but they will get easier. Make a few notes about what you are going to say and how you are going to phrase it. Rehearse your introduction.

Apply online or send your CV with a letter or even make an approach in person.

Try to get someone else to check over your application for correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Use your network of people around you to find useful contacts.

You will be amazed what you find out through your connections and the people around you. When approaching employers, it may be advisable to ask them in the first instance if they can provide work experience. If that goes well you could ask about a possible apprenticeship opportunity.

Training for Apprentices in England

•Find a construction training provider (e.g. a college or a private training organisation),and apply to them.

•Find a suitable employer.

•Government funding is often available to help pay for the training, depending on your age and eligibility.

You may find a list of apprenticeship vacancies here:

England - Find an apprenticeship from GOV.UK

Wales - Careers Wales

Scotland - My World of Work

In some cases you may find a training provider first and then an employer, or vice versa.

It’s often a good idea to look for an employer and training provider at the same time, but this depends on a number of different factors (e.g. availability of employers in the local area, college provision, what trade or occupation you are focusing on).

That's a wrap

We hope this article about joining the construction industry was useful for to you. So regardless your age, your background or your contacts you can take action! If you have any questions feel free to contact Saint Ambassador or GoConstruct for further support.

This article was produced in partnership with Saint Ambassador, CITB GoConstruct

PS. Whenever you are ready, here's how to grow your construction business...

1. Join our Facebook Group which built completely for businesses within the construction industry. Real people, real support. - Now also available on LinkedIn.

2. Keep up to date with Construction Insider Providing you with industry insight, tips & tricks and much more to make sure you are ahead of your competitors!

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