If you always knew that an academic career path wasn’t for you, if you are perhaps struggling with academic work – especially at exam time – and preferring practical subjects at school, why not take a look at careers in the construction industry?

To find out more, we spoke with local specialists, the Shared Apprenticeships South West (SA) who regularly take on apprentices in trades such as carpentry, bricklaying and more! SA was set up by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to meet growing demand for a more flexible approach to apprenticeships. And they work with the main construction companies based – or simply operating – within this region.

Not all construction apprenticeships are the same

What’s different about SA is that they employ the apprentices themselves, and then find them relevant placements with contractors across the region so they can complete their apprenticeship whilst also arranging the necessary college courses. Construction apprenticeships are often longer than the work placements with contractors, so this method ensures employment consistency for the apprentice.

Apprentices are recruited, trained and managed through the SA scheme, with the ‘shared’ element meaning they have the opportunity for fixed-term on-the-job placements with one or more construction companies or projects during their apprenticeship. All training and study is then organised by SA and CITB and the apprentices get valuable experience with major construction companies who might otherwise not be able to offer them a full-term apprenticeship.

What can you expect

SA gave us an example of a young apprentice who started out with them on building sites in the South West. He began learning his trade with host contractor BAM Nuttall, where he spent his time cutting, shaping, fitting and finishing a variety of elements on site before moving on to a prestigious Willmott Dixon development.

Constantly learning

There’s no doubt that with a construction apprenticeship you’ll be constantly learning and, chances are, you’ll also be really enjoying being part of the team who will all be helping you to truly understand and perfect the craft you have chosen.

The traders will be keen to get you involved

There’s plenty of variety and as a construction apprentice with SA you can expect to work on sites for major contractors including multi-million-pound refurbishments. The traders will be keen to get you involved – not least because they need extra manpower to complete each job. But there’s no doubt they will be pleased to help you train and grow as well.

Realistically, you might be expecting to stay on each site for a matter of weeks at a time, but each placement could well ask you to stay on until the developments have been completed. You can then get the chance to see a job through to the finish and that can be a real confidence boost to know that the contractors have such faith in your abilities and can see that you have worked hard.

Studying for qualifications as well

Along with working on a variety of sites, SA says that as a construction apprentice, you can also expect to spend one day a week studying towards perhaps a Level 2 Diploma at college. And following that, you may want to continue on and complete your Level 3 to allow you to take on a more supervisory role.

What the future holds

After completing their apprenticeship, each apprentice is then still supported by SA to find their own permanent job and career in the industry. However, your time on different construction sites will also help you to build up your own list of contacts within the industry, and that will give you an advantage going forward as you come to the end of your apprenticeship training.

SA told us – “More people should look at the possibility of an apprenticeship. Young people can learn so many new, practical skills that they wouldn’t get from traditional classroom qualifications.”

Thanks to Shared Apprenticeships South West (SA).

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