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The occupational composition of the workforce in construction is distinctive from most other industries, in that a high proportion (approximately 55%) of the workforce is made up of people with well-developed manual skills, (such as bricklayers, steel erectors, roofers, carpenters, glaziers etc), compared to around 10% in the economy as a whole. The remaining workforce (45%) is in non-manual roles, including managers and those working in the professional services.

Occupational groups in the sector with job shares of more than 10% are managers & senior officials and machine & transport operatives.

Through to 2017, skilled trades are expected to see a slow decline in their share of total jobs. Job losses are also projected for administrative, clerical & secretarial occupations and for elementary occupations, machine & transport operatives. However, these are offset by small employment increases in shares for managerial, professional and also the associate professional & technical group.

Source: Sector Skills Assessment for the Construction Sector 2009 and Working Futures 2010-2017


Occupational replacement demands

A modest expansion of employment for the sector over the decade as a whole is forecast. This does not take into account the very substantial need to replace members of the existing workforce who will retire or leave for other reasons over the next decade. This will have significant implications for training of new entrants.

The occupation requiring the largest number of replacements is skilled trades, where a high percentage of craftsmen are nearing retirement age. The estimated replacement demands for this group are nearly one third of a million.

Significant replacement demands are also projected for: managers, administrative, clerical & secretarial occupations; professionals and associate professional & technical occupations; and machine & transport operatives and elementary occupations.

Source: Working Futures 2010-2017

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Occupational hard-to-fill vacancies and skill shortage vacancies

  • 6% of employers in the sector report vacancies, compared to 12% in all sectors
  • 2% report hard-to-fill vacancies, compared to 3% in all sectors.
  • 2% report skill shortage vacancies, compared to 3% in all sectors.
  • The highest proportion of skills shortage vacancies are for skilled trades.
  • 18% of employers report skills gaps, compared to 19% in all sectors.
  • The proportion of staff described as lacking proficiency is 7%.
  • Skills gaps are highest for skilled trades, managers and elementary. Gaps are reported to be for technical and practical skills, and far below for problem-solving, oral communication and team working.

The impact of hard-to-fill vacancies is reported to be:

  • increased workload for other staff
  • loss of business or orders to competitors
  • delays developing new products
  • increased operating costs

Construction professionals believe that the economic climate will have a long-term impact on skills on the construction industry, considering that the economy has damaged the stability of the construction industry.

Source: National Employer Skills Survey 2009 and Skills in the construction industry 2009

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As with most industries, construction industry pay scales are based on a number of variables. Construction salaries are influenced by experience, one’s role in the industry, the type of construction that is involved as well as the geographical location.

For instance, construction management salary would likely to be higher than the average construction worker salary because of the level of responsibility required to manage a construction project.

The table below provides a guide to the average salary for a selection of job roles within the construction industry. The salary range applies to fully qualified and experienced people.


Source: ConstructionSkills AACS LMI 2010

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Occupational roles and sources of information

ConstructionSkills has published case studies on different roles in the construction which can be accessed from their website. There is also a section on job profiles in specific jobs can be searched or broad occupational areas. Some selected examples include:

  • wood occupations (i.e. bench joiner, shop fitter, etc.)
  • roofing occupations (i.e. roof slater and tiler, lead sheeter)
  • demolition occupations (i.e. scaffolder, steeplejack, etc.)
  • technical support (i.e. architectural technician, plant technical support, site inspector, etc.)

The National Careers Service website has detailed occupational profiles for some occupations in construction, including: bricklayer; carpenter; construction manager; estimator; kitchen and bathroom fitter; painter and decorator; plasterer; roofer; tiler; and window fitter. These profiles include information on entry points, training, working environment, employment opportunities and expected annual salary.

The Graduate Prospects website (a graduate careers website) includes information on broad sectors including: Construction and Property. Some selected examples of occupations include: architect; building services engineer; site engineer; urban general practice surveyor; and civil engineer). Each has information on: job roles entry and progression; typical employers; opportunities abroad; future trends; case studies; plus a list of contacts and resources.

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