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The Construction Industry – professional and managerial roles

Construction is the creation of the built environment covering all stages of the construction process, from creating the initial ideas and designs to actually building the structure and ensuring that everything continues to work after it is completed.

The sector covers the following areas: building infrastructure (such as roads and rail); the building of public and private housing; the construction of public non‐housing (such as schools); industrial building; the construction of commercial premises (such as offices and retail units); together with the repair and maintenance of these constructions.
ConstructionSkills represents every part of the UK construction industry, from architects to bricklayers. The sector employs 2.35 million people, representing over 8% of the UK workforce.

Professional and managerial staff in the construction sector can be involved at all stages of a construction project from the early planning stages to maintaining a building after it has been constructed. The industry covers a whole range of different roles including:

• Design – Architects, Structural Engineer, Geospatial Modeller
• Surveying – Quantity Surveyor, Building Surveyor, Hydrographic Surveyor
• Management – Construction Manager, Project Manager, Site Supervisor
• Planning – Planner, Facilities Manager, Town Planner

Some who enter this area of the industry will become specialised in their chosen field, whilst others will start their own companies or become managers in construction businesses.

Key facts for the construction sector as a whole:
• 92% of organisations in the construction sector employ less than 10 people.
• 5% of the workforce is employed in manual occupations.
• 37% of the workforce is self‐employed.
• Much of the workforce is mobile.
• More than 35% of people in the sector are their own boss running their own companies.

Jobs in the industry range from: senior executive, business process manager, construction manager, civil engineer, town planner, mechanical engineer, architect, surveyor, project manager, structural engineer, geospatial modeller, facilities manager

Entry and progression
Many professional and management positions require a relevant higher education qualification. For those in craft and technical positions, there are opportunities to work and study part‐time in order to progress to professional and managerial positions. Graduates will be trained for highly specialised or management positions and will have the opportunity to gain professional qualifications, such as chartered status.

There are opportunities to progress further in the construction sector and many people start their own companies. Career paths in the sector tend to vary as people train and begin to specialise.

Qualifications, many of which are endorsed by the industry, that can be studied to progress to professional and managerial level include: Advanced Apprenticeship; HNC/HND; Foundation Degree; and BSc, BA and BEng degrees.

For job specific entry requirements, job profiles should be consulted.

Employment trends and future prospects
A high priority for the construction sector in the future will be to address the global challenge of carbon reduction, as it accounts for 47% of all UK carbon emissions generated. New legislation has been put in place in some parts of the sector, but skills will need to be adapted and updated. The key areas for consideration are energy, water, materials and waste. As a result, the sector is looking towards: product innovation; lean manufacturing; innovation in manufacturing away from the construction site; large scale renewable energy; zero‐carbon (residential and non‐residential); low carbon refurbishment of existing stock; low energy buildings; waste management; flood risk; and social/behavioural change.

Individuals employed in professional and management occupations will need to accommodate the following features in their designs, such as:

• Airtightness – a robust primary air barrier around entire house
• Maximisation of day lighting
• Energy efficient ventilation
• Zoning (thermal and lighting)
• Efficient servicing strategy
• Downstairs bedrooms included in the design
• Shutters, balconies and canopies
• Vented window panels
• Rainwater harvesting
• Bio‐energy – woodchip boilers
• Solar panels to convert energy from the sun into electricity
• Wind turbines
• Off‐site manufacturing
• Pod construction – production of three dimensional elements (eg bathroom) in a factory, which are delivered to site and incorporated into the building design
• Panellised – factory produced flat panel units which are transported to site for assembly
• Vacuum insulation panels, cavity wall insulation and external insulation

Employment in the industry is likely to continue to fall until early 2011 and then begin to pick up to 2014. As economic conditions improve, stabilisation and then recovery are expected for the private housing, industrial and commercial sectors. In contrast, public sector works are facing expenditure cuts as projects come under review.
In construction overall, on average, nearly 48,000 new entrants will be needed each year between 2010 and 2014. This average recruitment requirement takes account of the natural flow of workers into and out of the industry such as those retiring, or changing career.

Skill shortages
For most employers in the construction sector, the recession and low or uncertain demand are key issues, so there has been a fall in skills shortages facing employers compared with previous years.

On the contracting side of the sector, the largest volume of skills gaps (around 13,000) was reported for labourers and general operatives. 6% of labourers and general operatives were described as not being fully proficient. Similar numbers of staff were reported not to be fully proficient, including: managers; painters/decorators; administration; carpenters/joiners; scaffolders; and supervisors.

Specific examples of skills required in the industry include:
• Solar Thermal – Understanding of installation issues; understanding of high temperatures and pressures; maintenance of roof integrity i.e. sealing and bracketry; weather tightness of roof
• Heat Pumps e.g. water source heat pump ‐ Supervision of ground works; awareness of potential damage to ground loop post pressure test
• Solar panels –Electrical safety especially high DC voltages; Inverter trip and failure; Awareness of design issues such as wind uplift; impact of shading/ glare; weather tightness of roof; penetration of roof by fire spread
• Wind turbines – Understanding of installation issues including materials needed to support products e.g. type of concrete; weather tightness of roof; penetration of roof by fire spread

Many people believe that new products require new skills to design and install them. However, these skills are either an add‐on to existing skills or an amalgam of current skills. Roofers for example are now being trained to install solar panels in addition to the traditional skills.

Salary levels
Construction salaries are influenced by experience, role in the sector, the type of construction that is involved, as well as the geographical location. Salaries for those in professional and management positions are higher than the average construction worker salary because of the responsibilities of the roles. The following provides a guide to the average salary ranges for a selection of roles and applies to fully qualified and experienced people:

• Architect £35,000 – £48,000
• Building Control £33,000 – £41,000
• Civil Engineer £36,000 – £42,000
• Construction Manager £38,500 – £47,000
• Quantity Surveyor £41,000 – £49,000
• Structural Engineer £36,000 – £47,300
• Surveyor £33,000 – £47,000