What do you need to work in construction in the UK?

What does a construction worker do? 

Construction workers carry out various manual labour tasks on construction sites, from loading and unloading materials to installing drainage systems. The role involves a mix of responsibilities and working on several projects at once, meaning every day entails something different. Being immersed in such a wide range of manual labour tasks opens up the opportunity to gain experience in many areas. It can also push your career into a specialised division of the construction industry. 

What qualifications does a construction worker need? 

If you’re looking to kick-start your career as a construction worker, there’s a few things you may want to consider to improve your chances of employment. There are also qualifications that some employers will require, so it’s worth looking into getting yourself qualified. 

College courses

If you’re straight out of school and have very little experience within the construction industry, taking a college course is a good place to start. Level 1 and 2 certificates in construction operations are available, depending on GCSE results, and cover the basic skills and knowledge that are essential to construction work. These courses usually offer a variety of optional modules, such as electrical installations, building maintenance and bricklaying, so you can choose areas that interest you. 

Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship might be a more suitable route into the construction industry if you prefer a learn-as-you-go approach and there are plenty of apprenticeships to choose from. For example, a groundwork intermediate apprenticeship could be beneficial as it introduces you to the necessary skills to prepare grounds before actual construction work begins. 

CSCS labourer card

Although not a legal requirement, a CSCS card is a highly reputable qualification within the construction industry. To obtain a CSCS card, you have to pass the CITB health, safety, environment test, to demonstrate that you’re competent in health and safety. It is common for construction firms to request this CSCS card before going on-site, so it’s worth applying for. 

Skills and knowledge 

Many skills are required to fulfil the roles and responsibilities of a construction worker. A good level of fitness will be needed due to the physically demanding nature of the role, along with being confident working with your hands. Other transferable skills will also be beneficial to everyday tasks, such as the ability to communicate within a team and pay attention to details. 

In addition, further qualifications will be advantageous for securing a job in construction and improving your performance. These could be explored in personal time, or some are offered within apprenticeships. 

Awareness training courses 

There’s many training courses available that cover fundamental topics, including working at heights and manual handling. By gaining these types of qualifications, you’ll acquire a huge amount of broader knowledge, and it demonstrates to employers that you’re genuinely enthusiastic and interested in the field. 

Highly recommended courses include: 

NVQs

Construction NVQ courses assist workers within the construction industry on their path towards senior roles and achieving higher level qualifications, such as the skilled worker card. Most apprenticeships integrate NVQs into their content, up until level 4, but some do advance up to level 7, for construction management training. The diplomas are highly valued within the industry and show proven ability. 

Operating plant machinery 

Another type of qualification that’s valuable to construction workers is official licences for the type of machinery you’ll be operating, whether it’s a forklift or telehandler. These licences are suitable for workers over 18 years old and qualify you to operate machinery on-site, making job applications a lot more attractive to employers.

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