The industry is attracting lots of investment and the UK Government sees Construction as critical as the country emerges from both Brexit and the pandemic. It is also a sector where there is a larger demand for skilled, qualified people than there are people to fill those places, according to Rich.
“There is a shortage of skilled people, especially in the South West,” he said. “There can be acute skills shortages, both in the trades and professional positions. Employers come to us and say they need people to fill skill gaps.”
It is an industry that can be well paid and varied. The work has a big practical component that suits some people well, you get to see different places working remotely and on location, you could work all around the country or across the world when you are qualified, and there is the satisfaction of seeing that you have played a part in creating something in the world that others will live in or use.
Truro and Penwith College has ways to get into either the ‘trade’ or ‘professional’ sides of the industry.
“The usual route into the ‘trade professions’ is to do a Level 1 Course with the College, aged 16, after school,” says Rich, “then follow the trade of your choice through Level 2 and 3 qualifications, either Diplomas full-time at College, or moving into an Apprenticeship.
“From 2022 we do Carpentry, Bricklaying and Plastering, through Levels 1, 2 and 3 at Truro.”
Apprenticeships, which can be done by adults as well as College-aged students, are also available in Carpentry, Bricklaying and Plastering trades. They usually start termly, three times every year.
At Penwith College, in addition to the Levels 1 to 3 Bricklaying and Carpentry in Diplomas, they also have Levels 1 to 3 Diplomas and Apprenticeships in Painting and Decorating.
“The ‘profession route’ is via our T Levels, either ‘On-Site’ or ‘Design, Surveying and Planning,’ says Rich.
“If you start in Construction in an unskilled job on site, such as a labourer, you may be able to get the qualifications on the job with your employer, but an adult Apprenticeship with the College is a great choice.”
A Construction qualification can even be a way into a new life on the other side of the world.
“Your qualifications are transferable anywhere in the world, a lot of students want to go to Australia,” says Rich. “Anyone with a trade gets maximum points in the points-based system to get into Australia to live and work. Our students work across the world. Australia and Germany are popular destinations.”
The industry not only has many vacancies, well-paid roles, and opportunities worldwide, but is also more interesting and varied than you might think.
“The Construction industry is diverse. It’s not like the stereotypes at all,” says Rich. “There are all kinds of roles such as surveying, site management, design, and computer modelling. Women are becoming more and more visible and successful in the industry, and ‘zero carbon industry’ and sustainability in Construction are big areas with many new opportunities.”