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Construction and the Built Environment

The Job Market

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General Construction

  • More than 2.35 million people -  8% of the UK workforce- currently work in construction and the built environment.
  • Of those working in construction at least 2 out of 5 work in the skilled trades such as electricians, carpenters and plumbers and most of these trained on a Apprenticeship.
  • 92% of all employment in construction is in small businesses with less than 11 workers.
  • Currently about 40% of construction workers are self- employed - compared with 13% of the working population as a whole. This is likely to continue at this level, accounting for more than 2 in 5 jobs.
  • The majority of jobs are full-time and are likely to remain so in this industry.
  • The construction industry is particularly sensitive to the economic cycle and so has suffered during the recent recession. However some areas of construction have done better than others - private housing builds, especially of developments of flats, have experienced difficulties, whereas government funding for big build projects such as schools, hospitals, houses and new transport infrastructure for example stations and motorway widening has continued.
  • Bringing into line the existing housing stock with environmental and energy standards, a policy which has been supported by government grants to homeowners and tenants, continues to be a growth industry for firms locally and nationally.
  • In the Black Country, like the rest of the UK, the construction industry continues to be one of the most male dominated industries in the UK with Females only accounting for 1 in 10 of all jobs.
  • In the region the £500m New Street Station redevelopment, known as Birmingham Gateway, will increase the station passenger capacity and will hopefully bring new construction jobs to the region.

Architecture, surveying and planning

  • There are around 31,000 qualified architects in the UK. The majority work in private practice as partners, associates and salaried architects.  Private practice range from small firms with just one architect to large firms with up to 50 architects.
  • Architectural technicians/technologists work in architectural technology practices, architecture practices or local authorities. Other employers include government agencies, housing associations, commercial companies, manufacturers and construction organisations.
  • For Surveyors In the private sector, employers include surveying practices, property companies, consultancies, construction companies, estate agents, housing associations and large organisations which own land. In the public sector, employers include local authorities, government departments, hospital trusts and universities. Surveying technicians are employed throughout the UK, but there are more jobs in large cities. There is considerable competition for graduate jobs with leading surveying firms.
  • As Home Inspection is a new role; it is too early to say what the long-term prospects will be for home inspectors. Some are likely to combine this work with other professional roles in the property and construction industries. Some may decide to set up their own business.
  • Planners are employed by local authorities and government departments, planning consultancies, large firms, such as house builders, supermarket chains and water companies, government agencies for economic development, environment, housing, heritage and the countryside, and voluntary and environmental organisations.
  • Local authorities and government departments employ the majority of town planning support staff. Other employers include planning consultancies, large firms, such as house builders, supermarket chains and water companies, government agencies for heritage and the countryside, and voluntary and environmental organisations.

Building services

  • There are 11,000 heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration businesses in the UK and over 95,000 people employed in the sector. There is a shortage of engineers in the building services industry as a whole, and there are opportunities for refrigeration engineers in all areas of the UK. Air conditioning is a growing area of work. Heating and ventilating engineers are employed by specialist mechanical and electrical contractors and consultancies across the UK, with a concentration in London and the South East.
  • Building services engineers work for design consultancies, major building services contractors and organisations such as local authorities, government departments, hospitals, factories and power stations. There is a severe shortage of qualified engineers in this field.
  • Thermal insulation engineers Employers include large construction companies and specialist subcontractors in construction and in other areas of industry, such as petrochemical plants, oil refineries and power stations. There is currently a demand for skilled workers.
  • The cavity wall insulation business is made up of firms of varying sizes, some large and some very small. Most firms are located in urban areas. Many cavity wall insulation technicians are self-employed

Civil and Structural engineers

  • Civil and structural engineering employers include civil and structural engineering consultancy companies, building and civil engineering contractors, local and central government, transport authorities, rail operators and gas and electricity supply companies. Jobs are available nationwide.There are also good opportunities for experienced engineers to work abroad.

Do you want to find out more about the general job market in the Black Country?