The Benefits of Apprenticeships in the Construction Industry: How to Kickstart Your Career with On-the-Job Training

1. Introduction

This volume is to acquaint readers with the substance, operation and potential effects of apprenticeship training. The overall purpose is to help our comprehension in the relationship between learning strategies, employment starts and work lives. Through widening our understanding of the links between learning and working, the guidance in this volume aims to contribute to the development of policies and practices that are more benign, equitable and effective for young people, whether seeking to become skilled workers or to make other kinds of transition from education to work. The volume is therefore geared to readers who are concerned about youth employment or the development of a skilled workforce, particularly those who wish to understand more about the varied roles of apprenticeship in contemporary societies, and the relationships between the different elements of policy and provision in vocational education and training. In many parts of the world, the volume may be of interest to educationists and policymakers in schools, colleges and training institutions, parent and student bodies, trade and industry organizations, and trade unions. Since the book is strongly based on the papers of researchers, it will also be of interest to those engaged in the study of comparative education, sociology of education, education and employment, labour market and industrial relations.

2. Why Choose an Apprenticeship in the Construction Industry

Apprenticeships provide an opportunity for you to gain the desired skills and qualities needed for a specific job or sector. For the most part, they are aimed at 16-24 year olds and a stepping stone to taking you onto the right career path. From a recent survey carried out by the Learning and Skills Council, over three quarters of UK businesses said that young recruits brought higher productivity and a level of fresh ideas to the team, while 65% said they made a valuable contribution to the organization. They also said that staff that had been through an apprenticeship program were 15% more employable than those with other qualifications. For the apprentice, it is an opportunity for you to build up your knowledge and experience while gaining a credible qualification. In the construction industry, apprentices will work alongside experienced staff, learning the tricks of the trade firsthand. An apprentice will also get time to practice their new skills in the workplace, learning how to apply them in the most efficient and effective manner. Given the nature of the industry, certain qualifications such as NVQ’s require practical knowledge of the trade and would be better taught through on-the-job training. At the same time, the apprentice will be earning a wage, learning to manage their own finances, and possibly supporting a family. Learners UK noted that the average wage for a construction apprentice was £170-£210 a week, although this was four years ago so a slight increase is expected.

3. How to Find Apprenticeship Opportunities

Finally, keep an open line of communication with people who are already working in the construction field. More likely than not, they will have been through an apprenticeship and could offer useful information to assist you in your search.

Online job search engines are an alternative source to look for an apprenticeship. Usually, they are organized by location and trade, so you can custom tailor your search to individual specifications. This can help you find an apprenticeship that best fits your desired trade.

Colleges and construction vocational schools usually offer information on where to find apprenticeships in the construction trade. If you’re already a student, it would be a wise idea to check with your counselor or professor to see if they have any resources available. Entering into an apprenticeship will facilitate you to more effectively apply what you learn in the classroom to real-world situations.

Another excellent resource for finding apprenticeships is your nearby contractors and construction unions. A lot of the time they will have the resources to offer information on apprenticeship programs and they might even offer some on-the-job training with one of their professionals. Sometimes these training programs can parlay into a full-time position, so it is a great way to begin your career in construction.

There are a number of ways to look for an apprenticeship in the expanding construction field. To start, you can check out the Department of Labor’s service on apprenticeships. This resource offers information on where you can find apprenticeships, so it can help you understand where to get started in looking for one in your area.

4. The Application Process

The application process can be very competitive as trades often only take on a small number of apprentices at one time. To give yourself the best chance to get selected, it would be wise to compile a resume providing evidence of good school grades and any work experience (even if it doesn’t relate to construction). In the absence of work experience, demonstrating knowledge about the industry will show enthusiasm. Your resume will need to be accompanied by a covering letter stating why you are interested in the specific trade and what you are hoping to achieve from it. It is important to spend time on your covering letter and tailor it to the specific employer. To get information on where to send your resume and cover letter, try contacting the group training company in your state or contacting the apprenticeship board. Alternatively, you can investigate which construction companies are taking on apprentices and contact them directly. Personal visits can be effective as it demonstrates initiative and allows employers to put a face to your name, making you more memorable. Finally, it is highly likely that you will need to attend an interview. This is an area where preparation is vital. Practice common interview questions or see if you can organize a mock interview. Make sure you know about the company and the industry. Often employers will want to see how much you already know about the trade you have chosen. This is also your chance to ask any questions, and it is important to have at least a couple prepared to show your interest. All the preparation and hard work will be worth it once you are underway in your rewarding career in the construction industry.

5. On-the-Job Training and Learning

The most common form of on-the-job training in the Australian construction industry is trade skill apprenticeships. This is where a person new to the industry will learn a particular trade skill, such as bricklaying, carpentry, or plumbing, by working with a skilled tradesman and learning from him. This style of apprenticeship usually takes between 3-4 years to complete, and most learning is done by observing and then attempting tasks given to the apprentice by the tradesman. An apprentice can learn a large amount through this form of training, and it provides an easy transition into real-world work for the learning tradesman. In addition, there is a chance of the trade skill apprentice advancing to higher roles and further learning. For instance, a carpentry apprentice may be given the chance to manage tasks and learn basic project management. This is very suitable for the apprentice as it will give them a taste of management and an understanding that they may wish to take on this role in the future.

In the context of construction, on-the-job learning is simply learning a skill while physically working in the field. This is very effective as construction work is very hands-on. On-the-job training can come in many forms. In the context of apprenticeships, a large amount of learning will be done simply by completing the standard tasks assigned to entry-level construction workers, such as site clean-up, fetching and carrying, and general maintenance duties. These are a good introduction to the more technical side of the industry and may be all the learning that someone not in a full apprenticeship will receive before trying to move on to a higher-level trade.

The most attractive element of an apprenticeship is the opportunity to learn while you earn. On-the-job training is a vital component of any apprenticeship. It allows for the most effective skills acquisition because it is always easier to learn a task by actually doing it, instead of being told how to do it or simply watching someone else do it. It can also prove to be a more memorable and effective way for an apprentice to increase their knowledge. For instance, if a task is done incorrectly, it can be learned from and improved upon when repeated. Although on-the-job training can be risky if the apprentice is tasked with a difficult feat with a potentially large cost of failure, this is mitigated by the apprentice’s generally lower wage. Because the apprentice is learning from doing the task, it means they will have the skill for that task in the future. This is unlike off-the-job training where they may have learned a skill but forgotten it by the time it can be used.

6. Building a Strong Foundation: Basic Construction Skills

A construction worker needs basic skills that are used on any construction site. The one skill that is used on almost every task is math. You will need to be able to do the math on the fly, and be able to do it quickly, as you are adjusting your work. A solid understanding of geometry can help you solve problems in this area. The next step after math is to be able to read and write the client’s or supervisor’s instructions. This is vital as incorrect building directions can cost both time and money. If you are able to understand what it is you are doing, you will be able to save time and money in double-checking the work. Write down all the instructions you need to remember and make a small reference sheet to carry on the job, in case you forget. The final set of skills involves the manipulation of weight, space, and a good sense of timing. This can be applied to a wide range of things from bricklaying to pouring cement to loading and unloading trucks. All of these jobs require a planning stage and then precise execution of the plans.

7. Specializing in a Trade: Electrical, Plumbing, Carpentry, and More

Carpenters are involved in a process that begins with something like an idea or a rough sketch, and culminates in the building of a home or building. The carpenter uses the idea or plans to determine what is to be constructed or repaired, they will select and cut materials to specified measurements. Broken into building and highway/heavy, carpenters run a number of tasks from building, repairing and installing formwork for placing concrete, erecting scaffolding, or bracing, to location, preparation and installation of numerous building materials including but not limited to; concrete forms, building framework, siding or finish. This is usually a three year apprenticeship and the pay can start at $35,000 and go up to $60,000 a year.

Plumbers do a similar process, system building and maintenance that involves delivering something (water in this case) to a desired location inside of a home or building. They do this in a number of ways and the systems can be very complex for large buildings. Plumbing is a steady and rewarding job, again with the work in high demand so training apprentices are beneficial to the trade. Plumbers can earn a great living, both while in apprenticeship at full scale. Apprenticeship pay rates are often between 30-50 percent of the rate paid to experienced workers. Wages increase regularly as apprentice skills improve. Upon completion of a registered apprenticeship program, the average wage for an apprentice is $50,000.

Electrician, plumber, carpenter, HVAC technician: the trades that require a special skill set and are always in demand for new construction, or home and building repairs. Electricians, for example, bring power into homes or buildings. They install and maintain the wiring and systems that deliver electricity, and they also maintain electrical equipment and devices. In this trade, an apprentice will learn the basics through the first year, then be able to move on to more advanced skills in following years. An electrician apprentice can earn quite a bit, as the demand for this profession is quite high, resulting in higher wages.

8. Safety Measures and Regulations in Construction

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Any work on scaffolding or roofs has specific procedures that must be followed to ensure safety. Similarly, ladder safety has strict guidelines to ensure minimal risk of injury. Other safety regulations cover trenching and excavation, electrical work, and the use of personal protective gear. In taking an apprentice, the employer assumes the responsibility of teaching these procedures to ensure a safe and healthy career for the worker.

With the use of high-powered tools and machinery comes the possibility for life-altering injury. It is a contractor’s job to ensure that all employees are up to date with OSHA training and that they are following all codes and regulations set by state and federal governments. Any mishaps resulting from negligence in regulation can mean heavy consequences to an employer. This can include huge fines or, in the worst cases, criminal charges.

Construction sites may seem messy or chaotic to the untrained eye, but they are, in fact, regulated environments. Statistically, construction is one of the most dangerous fields a worker can enter. Regulations are strictly enforced to prevent injury or death to workers.

9. Working with Tools and Equipment

The construction industry revolves around the utilization of heavy machinery and tools. The “Tools and Equipment” section of the OSHA Construction Standards, 29 CFR 1926, Subpart I, defines a tool as “a hand-operated device used to control motion and perform work outside the body.” This is a very broad definition that can be interpreted to mean a variety of things. In many cases, tool and equipment manufacturers looking to gain approval will approach OSHA with their products. OSHA will then put their staff to work utilizing the product or tool in a simulated work environment. All these tools were designed for trade workers and laborers to utilize in the most efficient manner possible. This not only improves quality of work, but also lessens physical stress on the workers and in many cases increases safety. Quality tools when used properly can also yield a result unmatched by conventional methods. With these facts in mind, we must consider the tool or equipment to be used and the best way to do so. Often times, the safe way and the OSHA approved way are the same. A good example of this is the use of pneumatic nail guns in place of hand-driven hammers. Using the nail gun is really the most efficient method for installing nails. OSHA has a thorough list of very detailed regulations that pertain specifically to the use of pneumatic nail guns. An example of its regulation is “1926.302(b)(1): the safety device on the muzzle end of the tool shall be in place and operating properly.” This is the same as saying using a nail gun is OK, but it must be done correctly, the safe way, and the manufacturer’s way.

10. Communication and Teamwork in the Construction Industry

The nature of a construction project means that those involved are often dispersed around a large area or are working at different times. The project may involve complex deadlines and unforeseen problems. This means that it is difficult to keep in regular contact and can be hard to keep track of progress. Failure to communicate effectively often results in contradictory information and decisions being made without the full facts. This ultimately leads to mistakes, rework, and misunderstandings. The final quality of the project will suffer as a result.

Effective communication and teamwork are vital to a construction project. No matter what the size or cost of the project, poor communication will lead to poor results and delays, as well as a great deal of frustration for everyone involved. In a worst-case scenario, poor communication can be dangerous or even fatal. The fact that there are so many different groups of people involved in a construction project makes communication difficult. For example, a project could involve architects, engineers, construction managers, general contractors, specialist subcontractors, suppliers of building materials, and those who will ultimately occupy the building. Those from each group may have very different ideas as to what a project involves and may behave differently towards others as a result.

11. Problem-Solving and Adaptability on Construction Sites

Apprentices have an advantage in developing these skills, due to the hands-on nature of their training. Each new task an apprentice is given will present a learning experience, and when put into unfamiliar situations, apprentices can apply skills learned in the classroom to find solutions. In addition to this, apprentices will often rotate between different placements with alternative employers, which will help to develop their flexibility and diversity in solving problems. An apprentice trained in this way will be more capable of ‘rolling with the punches’ in their approach to problem-solving and be less phased by unexpected changes.

Adaptability and problem-solving are two of the most important skills for success in the construction industry. This is especially true on construction sites, where work conditions can change frequently, and workers may be required to perform a wide range of tasks beyond their original job description. Due to the varied and often unpredictable nature of construction work, problems are almost guaranteed to arise.

12. Time Management and Efficiency in Construction Projects

Lastly, given that self-employment is the predominant form of employment in the Australian construction industry at 84.3% (compared to 8.7% for all employed persons in Australia), builders and tradespeople must take a realistic look at how much they are earning per hour. This may see some adjust their current business model, but the end goal would be improving the return on time and effort. An apprentice or young person looking to get involved in the construction industry should aim to work for those who are succeeding in this aspect, as they will likely have plenty of work and a clear future in the industry.

It is also important to create a clear starting point and finish point for the job. Too many tradespeople spread themselves thin working on several jobs, and they add hours and sometimes days to the original project because they are not giving it constant attention.

A study carried out by Master Builders Australia (2008) found that labor productivity in the Australian construction industry could improve by 78% if action is taken to address inefficiencies including downtime and only 22% when we improve labor efficiency. Labor productivity is defined as the measurement of the amount of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) produced by one hour of labor. Essentially, we are lending more time to complete, and a perfect example of this is the builder who measures the wrongly orders a batch of frames and trusses. He must remove the old ones, store the new ones, and call back the supplier later. Yet, if he were to simply measure twice and order once, he would have saved himself time and effort for no extra gain needed to be had.

FS apprentices suggest that the planning of construction work, the sequence of building operations, and the organization of the site are ways in which their trade can become more professional. By planning out the work before it is carried out, builders and tradespeople can reduce the amount of downtime waiting for materials (an inefficient use of time) and prevent confusion from tasks not being completed in the appropriate order. This is particularly relevant to domestic building and the smaller builder who is looking to progress.

13. Understanding Construction Plans and Blueprints

A construction plan shows what you are going to build. A plan is like a map. With a good map, you can find where you are going and you can see how to get there. You use the map to decide the best way to travel. A plan is the map for a building. With a good plan, you can find out how much the building will cost, what it will look like, and how to build it. You use the plan to decide the best way to build the building. These are some kinds of plans that an architect or engineer uses to show how to build a building. A floor plan shows where things are. Imagine that the building has no roof and you are looking down to see the walls that cut through the building. The lines that you see are the floor plan. This plan shows the wall lengths and has a simple sketch of the building. A plan should also have details on openings in the walls which are often drawn with lines through the walls. This can be a square box showing a window measurements and the wall opening should have the window size written around it. A reflected ceiling plan shows the roof of the building. When an arrow is shot on a wall, the ceiling is the first place that the arrow will stop so the ceiling should have a similar layout to the floor. This plan is necessary as it becomes easy to mix up the locations of walls and openings on a complex floor plan. A section shows what is behind a wall. It is like having a cut in the building and peeling back the wall to see what is inside. Sections can be as simple as implied lines on a floor plan or a more complicated drawing with a full shape of the building cuts in a few places. A detail is a close up of an area in the building. This is often used for complex joints or fancy work in a building. For small projects, a detail may be drawn on the same page with the floor plan. A large project may have a separate page with a set of details.

14. Quality Control and Inspections in the Construction Industry

Overall, whether it is quality control by regulation or quality control to avoid defects, it is evident that doing things right the first time is the most cost-effective and efficient way to work. Humble and prepared apprentices aiming to get things right the first time can be a refreshing sight for the weary tradesman or supervisor who is all too aware of the prevalent culture of laziness in modern times.

The more traditional way of ensuring quality by avoiding defects is to implement checks at various stages of the build to ensure everything is done correctly. An example of this would be an inspection of framing for a new house to ensure it meets standards and plans, something which upholds the principle of fixing any issues early as doing so is always cheaper and less time-consuming than fixing them later.

Above are examples of quality control by regulation. A second type of quality control is quality control for the sake of avoiding defects. This type of quality control begins at the foundation of a new building, something which is essential to get right. In recent times, there have been prevalent issues with new buildings whose foundations were not done correctly, resulting in significant leaning of the building or, in some cases, the building being deemed uninhabitable and demolished. This is largely due to companies taking shortcuts to increase profits, something which is less common in apprenticeship-based companies due to the supervision and pride in work from experienced builders. This is an example of how the want for lower costs can be detrimental to the quality of a build.

Quality control is a crucial factor in the construction industry, almost to the point where it is a sub-industry in itself. With a high emphasis placed on new builds needing to conform to local council regulations of house energy rating assessments, quality control has become more important than ever. Low-quality builds can result in huge fines for companies from local councils. For example, in an attempt to push for more eco-friendly housing in 2011, the local council of Napier, New Zealand made it mandatory that all new houses undergo and pass a minimum 4-star house energy rating assessment. A house failing to meet this and falling below the 4-star standard is subject to a fine until it meets the standard. This particular type of quality control to adhere to the 4-star standard is one which is becoming more common worldwide. In other cases, poor-quality builds may need to be demolished entirely if they fail to meet regulations on safety, a massive cost and loss for the company responsible.

Quality control is a part of life, something which humanity has been doing since the dawn of time. If something is to be done, it should be done correctly the first time. However, in the event that isn’t the case, it should be fixed to ensure the end product is perfect. This has been the ideology of quality control, and it is something which the human race has consistently excelled at. This is particularly evident in modern times, and that is no exception in the construction industry.

15. The Importance of Health and Wellness in Construction

Health and safety legislation in the majority of countries makes employers and employees equally responsible for the health and safety of their working environment. However, there are legislative requirements specific to the construction industry in many countries, which employers in construction are required by law to comply with. Control measures such as risk assessment, provision of information and training, and having competent people on the job play a huge role in delivering health and safety in the construction industry. A particular emphasis is placed on the identification of hazards and the elimination or control of any risks likely to cause harm to workers. Although the methods of achieving it may differ, the common goal is to secure the health and safety of those on site and ensure everyone goes home to their families at the end of the day.

Serious workplace injuries in construction are often the result of a failure to plan and control the work, a failure to identify and assess all the risks, or a failure to ensure that workers have the right training, information, and supervision. They can also result from workers not being involved in the decision-making process that affects their health and safety, not taking into account the experience of the aging workforce or the introduction of new technologies. More importantly, workers may not be aware of the potential hazards present in their work.

16. Environmental Sustainability in Construction Practices

There are several ways in which these negative effects can be mitigated. This can range from simple changes to company-wide policy changes. Probably the most effective way of reducing the environmental impact of construction projects is through more efficient use of materials. This can involve using fewer materials in the first place, avoiding any damage to the materials, and ensuring that materials are delivered to the site in the right quantities and at the right time. This can go a long way to reducing the vast amount of waste materials generated by construction. Alternative building methods and materials should also be considered, for instance using timber rather than steel. Timber is a renewable resource and its use in construction is carbon-neutral, as the carbon stores in the wood products are maintained throughout the life of the building. Steel and concrete, on the other hand, are both accountable for large CO2 emissions in their production, and steel construction only becomes carbon-neutral after 35-40 years.

Environmental sustainability is an increasingly important topic in modern society, with a greater emphasis being placed on the role of construction and its potential for damaging the natural environment. It is of particular relevance for the construction industry, especially in the UK where the government is committed to building a more sustainable and low carbon built environment. Construction has a major impact on the environment both in terms of the resources it consumes and the waste it produces. In the UK, it accounts for 6% of energy usage, 10% of water usage, 23% of air pollution, 50% of landfill waste, and 4% of all species extinction. Globally, the figures are even more stark, with construction accounting for 23% of air pollution, 40% of drinking water pollution, and 50% of landfill waste. Large construction projects can also have a detrimental effect on local environments and ecosystems, particularly where insufficient planning and care has been taken.

17. Managing Finances and Budgets in Construction Projects

Another key issue in construction finance is how and when the payment is made on a contract. This can have a significant impact on the contractor’s working capital, and the cost of financing the project for the owner. Later stage payments where partial payments are paid according to the percentage of work completed (stage payments), can elevate the project cost due to interest on the loan above the planned cost of the project. This warrants investigation of alternative methods that might be of lower cost to the owner, such as finance by the contractor or contract mixtures involving joint ventures.

It is widely recognized within the construction industry that the ultimate success of a project and indeed a construction company depends upon careful financial control using the best available current information. This is effected by monitoring the financial progress of a project by comparing the forecast with the actual cost. Any significant variance (actual differing from planned) can then be investigated to determine the remedial actions required to bring the project back in line with the original plan. Considering the importance of these future trends, it is surprising to learn how little work has been done within construction on how these trends might be projected, and the control actions that might be implemented. A trend is observable over time in such data as the productivity of a gang or the output achieved in manufacturing an item, and expressed as rate of increase or decrease in the function y=f(t). Simulation modelling methods, and even simple regression techniques could be used to extrapolate the expected future trend of the cost variable, and proportionate increase in the rates of labour and materials. Control actions can then be determined with the objective of reducing or stopping adverse variance from the plan. Such methods of financial control are taken for granted in other industries and should be taught more explicitly to construction graduates.

Property developers rely on accurate detailed information about a project to budget effectively. A trade contractor or subcontractor will also have many budgets for their own work which will be affected by the main budget, and the overall success of the project. Therefore, the importance of proper budgeting techniques cannot be overemphasized.

18. Dealing with Clients and Customer Service in Construction

In all disciplines, but particularly in the construction trade, an important aspect of your role will be dealing with clients and the general public. There is often a stereotype of builders being unkempt, loud, rough and sometimes argumentative. This is generally going to be true with every type of stereotype, but you should be dressed in your work gear. Client interaction is a common occurrence, and whether or not they initially approach you; whether it is a request or a complaint, you must always be courteous and polite. Sometimes you may find you are the subject of a complaint, or an irate customer is demanding to know why something has turned out different to what they expected. Always listen and let them explain the situation, then calmly explain it from your point of view and how it is going to be rectified. A situation can be made much worse if you have lost your temper and gotten into a shouting match and if it is a particularly bad complaint, follow it up at a later date to see if the customer is now satisfied with the result. This can in fact be a difficult task, should the customer still not be satisfied and has asked for the person responsible to be sacked, or for a complete redo of the work. If this is proposed, you should communicate with your employer, although it should be unlikely that you will lose your job over a single complaint but rather find a solution to the problem. Always finish your interaction with a pleasant and polite attitude, and don’t be surprised if you are requested by name for a specific task.

19. Legal and Ethical Considerations in the Construction Industry

Due to the nature of construction work, the industry has always struggled with the image of being the nearest thing to legalized gangsterism and a black economy. Whether this is a fair representation of the industry or not, the construction industry landscape is dotted with contentious issues such as insolvency, and it is an unfortunate fact that there is a disproportionate number of legal cases in the UK compared to other industries. As firms jostle over the limited pool of contracts up for grabs, relations often turn sour and disagreements lead to legal action. Often this can result in a pyrrhic victory where even the winning party has expended so much in legal fees that it has barely been worth it. Many smaller firms have war stories that usually end up in their own liquidation. In an ideal world, disputes should be settled amicably and amorphous institutions like ‘the construction industry’ should not find themselves being taken to court, but in a competitive adversarial industry this is always going to happen. The final result is good news for lawyers, but not so good for the industry as a whole. However, not all legal considerations are there to trip firms up and many laws have been instituted to improve the lot of the industry. Employment law is an area which many in the construction industry may not have been so keen to embrace, but has forced positive changes. The Construction Act and the Housing Grants, Regeneration & Construction Act were instituted to circumvent the issue of contractors not receiving payment for work done. It stated that all contracts must have an adequate mechanism for determining what the amount and the due date of a payment is and should there be a dispute over payment, the Act outlines a procedure of adjudication. This was good news for many smaller firms that in the past, may have found themselves working for next to nothing and not knowing how to resolve the issue.

20. Advancement Opportunities and Career Growth in Construction

Another option for advancement is to go into a related field. For instance, many retired tradespeople often take teaching positions to give back to the industry and help inspire those who are just starting out. This can be a rewarding experience to share knowledge and wisdom with others. With the constant changes in regulations and an ever-growing focus on green building, there are more opportunities opening up in fields related to construction. By completing an apprenticeship program and becoming a certified tradesperson, it can potentially lead to other jobs such as building inspector, site superintendent, or construction project manager.

Advancement in the construction industry often means moving into a position that involves supervision of other workers, taking on a higher level of responsibility and sometimes moving on to a larger project. One of the advantages of being in a supervisory position is the ability to work for oneself. Self-employed contractors generate the highest median income among construction workers. This can be a long-term goal for an apprentice who is just starting out in the industry. When you have the skills, the capital, and a good understanding of the industry, you can start your own business and work for yourself.

Construction is a growing industry that is constantly in need of skilled workers. With experience, one can move into higher paying positions and even transfer the tools learned through an apprenticeship program into a different career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a high demand for skilled workers in crafts such as electricians and carpenters. These occupations are expected to grow at the average rate for all other occupations through the year 2016. Those who are willing to put forth the effort and dedication can go a long way in this industry.

21. Networking and Professional Development in Construction

To achieve anything in life, often a person needs support, advice, and guidance from people who have experience in their field. Networking in the construction field is as essential as in any other industry. Further down the track, once you have established yourself and gained invaluable experience, it is often seen as essential to be a member of a professional organization. Professional development is the process of improving competencies, knowledge, skill, performance, and enhancing career prospects. It is ongoing and continues throughout a person’s career. Working alongside seasoned professionals in the construction industry can be an eye-opening experience. Often, following your apprenticeship, they can lead you in the right direction and provide helpful advice. Seeing work through the eyes of someone who has been in the business for a long time can teach you new methods and techniques you may not have learned otherwise. This can be invaluable, especially if you have the intention to start your own business. This is a method of succession, where once the older generation is ready to leave the workforce, the younger generation (hopefully with their gained knowledge) will step in and replace them.

22. Balancing Work and Life in the Construction Industry

Long hours, physically demanding work, and time away from home can put a strain on family and personal life. In recent years, social and demographic changes have made balancing work and home life a high priority with the workforce. A recent study shows that when it comes to work/life satisfaction, people who work in construction are less satisfied than people who work in other industries. When looking at work-life satisfaction differentials between employment sectors, construction workers and professionals consistently show up as being paid the most compared with their satisfaction level with work-life benefits. This suggests that workers in these occupations may be in a ‘golden cage’ with respect to work-life benefits, meaning that the more money they earn, the less likely they are to be able to afford the risk of leaving the job to gain better work-life benefits. This raises an important issue of retention with quality workers. If good workers are leaving the industry due to negative work-life influences, this could lead to a shortage of skilled professionals in construction. An aging workforce at present means that construction companies will have to replace record numbers of workers over the next two decades. Recruiting and retaining a new generation of skilled workers to pick up the slack will be a daunting challenge. In an industry that has one of the worst work-life satisfaction levels, improving these benefits will be crucial in recruiting and retaining skilled professionals. Higher work-life satisfaction levels are also linked with increased productivity and overall attitudes towards work. A study that includes a construction sector analysis shows that when firms invest in family-friendly work policies, it can be expected that workers will be satisfied with these policies and, in turn, this will increase their job performance.

23. Overcoming Challenges and Adversities in Construction

Personality conflicts and disputes with colleagues and supervisors can also cause stress and loss of morale. In some cases, they can lead to an apprentice wanting to change employment. It is always best to resolve issues before considering any drastic changes in job or career.

Issues at work can often be taken home and affect family life. Problems with wages, unemployment, bad weather, and physical tasks such as heavy lifting can lead to stress, fatigue, and illness. It is important to keep morale high and remain focused on long-term goals. It can be beneficial to seek advice and help from family and friends. If adversities lead to excessive stress, illness, or the feeling that you are not coping, taking a break or seeking alternative employment is not a sign of failure. Apprenticeships can be resumed within a two-year period. All apprentice providers have mentors who should be available to offer personal and professional advice at any time throughout your apprenticeship. They are often a useful source for finding solutions and resolving apprenticeship problems.

Your supervisor should be experienced and qualified to offer you instruction, guidance, and advice. Although this is not always the case, and you may find that you cannot easily communicate with him or that his idea of the best way to do something conflicts with your own. In this instance, it is essential that you do not neglect your own health and safety or that of others. If you are not confident with the task, then do not attempt it. Remember that it is your responsibility to think and act safely. Being aware of the correct techniques and procedures for using equipment and carrying out tasks is essential. Much guidance can be found in the safety codes of practice and industry guidance sheets, which are available from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

During the course of an apprenticeship, you will inevitably face numerous challenges and adversities. Thus, it is important to be aware of some readily available solutions and advice for getting through them. Apprentices spoke of the importance of being distracted from problems. In many cases, if an issue upsets you, it will affect the quality of your work and concentration. By doing something else for a while and coming back to the problem later with a fresh approach, you can often find a successful solution. This can often be the case with physical work too. By walking away from a task and coming back to it, you can help yourself see it more clearly and identify an easier or safer way of completing it.

24. Success Stories: Inspiring Apprenticeship Journeys in Construction

It is a registered apprenticeship program with enrollments projected to be about 5300 apprentices per year for the next few years and a way of ensuring continuous growth and development of the tradespersons’ skills and knowledge level.

Moreover, in some craftsperson’s work contexts, the apprentice system isn’t a very meaningful manner of learning the competencies of the trade to become a journeyman. With the pace of technological change in the 21st-century workplace and precarious occupation patterns, skills and knowledge that are acquired and developed in a short time period are likely to become outdated before the completion of an apprenticeship. The term of apprenticeship training in the construction trades varies according to the trade from two to five years.

Since the Renaissance in craftsman, which occurred around the year 2000 in North America, there has been a glut of apprentices and a dearth of skilled, expert journeyman and master tradespeople. Marion Christen, Chairman of the National Training Fund for the Construction Industry (NET), and some others have done a substantial amount of work in promoting apprenticeship training for the construction trades in the United States. However, according to briefings from design and technology education advisers today, there is now an equivalent requirement for a much greater number of graduate-design and technology teachers, yet a virtual absence of any teacher-training Journeyman course in the construction trades, either a traditional Vocational School program or an alternate trade route training course. The Alberta Regional Council of Carpenters and Allied Workers’ goal is to ensure that Alberta apprentices are the best skilled workers and have the most updated trade skills. The council trains more than 70% of Alberta’s carpentry apprentices.

25. The Future of Apprenticeships in the Construction Industry

An NCCER study found that the current use of craft training in the construction industry significantly increases productivity, reduces safety incidents, and retrains workers more effectively than other methods. Craft-trained workers make up only 18% of the construction workforce but are employed by 45% of all contractors. This suggests that participation in some form of formal training is moving toward being a prerequisite for skilled trade employment. This trend away from on-the-job training to formal education, coupled with the increase in the younger generation seeking construction careers, means construction apprenticeships, especially those at a higher and more structured level, are going to become more in demand and hold a higher status than they have had previously.

The majority of subcontract work is currently being performed by Hispanic workers, many of whom are illegal immigrants, due to the perception that it is lower paying and requires less skill and knowledge of the English language. This is not helping to combat the skilled labor shortage and will lead to a further decline in quality due to the language barrier and less general knowledge of construction.

With a forecast of more than 80% of employees being trade contractors, it is vital for construction apprenticeships to cater to the needs of these smaller businesses to ensure their workforce is properly trained at an affordable cost. Traditionally, the industry has been made up primarily of small, independent contractors that perform subcontract work for the larger companies who may employ their own apprentices or have the subcontractor provide the work. Due to an increasing shortage of skilled trade workers, this method is no longer viable for many contractors.

Research and study shows that the future for both construction as a whole and specifically construction apprenticeships is positive. The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) projects the national construction industry will continue to grow through 2010, adding almost 1.9 million new jobs. Increases in population, income, and the need to rebuild and repair the nation’s infrastructure will result in a greater demand for construction services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is slightly more conservative, projecting 1.6 million new jobs between 2006 and 2016, due in part to the increasing use of specialty trade contractors. All of this adds up to job security for those who seek careers in construction.

26. Conclusion

Undertaking an apprenticeship as a scaffolder requires careful thought and consideration. The requirements to become an apprentice are basic, but it is essential to prove that you have the character, knowledge, and commitment to be successful in the construction industry. If you have not been involved in construction before, then it is a good idea to spend a few days with a local firm to see if they will consider taking you on as a laborer. This will give you experience of the work involved and greatly increase your chances of finding an apprenticeship once you have gained a CISRS trainee card. If you are between 16 and 25 years of age and claiming JSA, or you are a lone parent or someone with a disability, then you may be eligible for a construction training reward which offers employers a wage incentive for taking on an apprentice. This is worth inquiring about, and you can find more information by contacting the Construction Awards Alliance. The career path for a qualified scaffolder is quite specific, as the skills you learn do not easily cross over into different trades. For the first year of your apprenticeship, you will work towards an NVQ level 2 in access work. This will take a minimum of one year but can take longer depending on the type of site you are working on and the experience of your employer. Step by step guide on the qualification is on the CITB website. While you are still in the early stages of your training, it is a good idea to take your CISRS basic skills card. This is a health and safety test which can be revised for on the CITB website and makes it easier to gain employment on a construction site. As you progress in your training, you can then go on to gain an NVQ level 3 in access and rigging work, and once you are competent in these skills and your employer sees fit, you can take an advanced scaffolder assessment.