With National Apprenticeship Week kicking off today, FMB have made an interesting announcement. Nearly 60% of SME construction owners started their career as an apprentice, according to new research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) ahead of National Apprenticeship Week.

The research also shows that more than half of those bosses were running their own company within just seven years of completing their apprenticeship training, and that 98% of construction SME owners value an apprenticeship over a degree when looking for new staff.

Chief Executive of the FMB, Brian Berry said “The construction industry is ideally suited to a young person with heaps of ambition and an entrepreneurial spirit. Our research demonstrates that a construction apprenticeship is the perfect springboard for a successful and rewarding career, with more than half of construction SMEs being run by people who started out as an apprentice. Of those who went on to start their own businesses, more than one in two reached that goal within a mere seven years of completing their apprenticeship training, showing that you can go from being a brickie to a business owner in no time at all.”

“Even if running your own firm isn’t what you aspire to do, a construction apprenticeship can nevertheless provide the foundation for a highly rewarding career. Almost 80% of our SME construction bosses said that employment in the sector offers high levels of job satisfaction with tangible results and 87% believe an apprenticeship teaches useful and practical skills. What’s more, by the age of 23, a bricklayer with five years’ experience can earn up to £31,000 and rising in some cases to £52,000 in London. Given the high levels of university tuition fees, young people have every reason to properly consider a more vocational education and pursuing a career in construction looks an increasingly shrewd move.”

Tony Passmore, Managing Director of the Passmore Group – an FMB member firm – added “I’ve been working in the construction industry for a long time now and I’ve lost count of the number of young people who I’ve seen start out at the bottom, put in the hard work during their apprenticeship, and then rise up through the ranks to set up their own firm. Many of them wouldn’t have guessed they’d soon be running their own business when they first entered the construction industry and started their apprenticeship. And for those who aren’t keen on running their own firm, most jobs in the construction industry give you the freedom to work anywhere in the country – or better still, anywhere in the world.”

Did you start your career as an apprentice? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Young people from across the county have been given an insight into the wide range of career opportunities available in the construction industry.

A Highways England-led team delivering road improvements in the East of England met with teens at the Huntingdonshire Careers Fair, held at Wood Green animal shelter this week.

The event, part sponsored by Highways England, was aimed at 15-16 year olds who are at a critical point in making their career choice.

More than 600 young people attended and met a wide range of Highways England employees and contractors, to learn more about the opportunities and skills involved in developing and constructing road projects of all sizes.

Adam, a local student who attended the fair, said “I am looking into a career path in design or engineering and it was great to see the range of opportunities the A14 scheme offers. I am in my final year of A-Levels and I was particularly interested in the design portfolio and was able to discuss the possibility of gaining work experience with the possibility of an apprenticeship starting in August 2016.”

Barry Andrews, one of the Highways England project managers present at the fair, said “I was delighted to represent Highways England at the Huntingdonshire careers fair. This was a great opportunity to engage with the potential engineers, technical specialists, project managers, team executives and apprentices of tomorrow on behalf of Highways England.”

“I passionately believe that the young people within our community are the future in which we must invest now and I will continue to support such valuable and creditable endeavours.”

Kirstie Dawe, one of Highways England’s apprentices who also supported the event, continued “I am on the Business Administration Apprenticeship at Highways England. For me, going to the careers event at Wood Green was a great opportunity to encourage young people to consider a career at Highways England and make them aware of the variety of career paths available from apprenticeships to graduate schemes.”

Among the team present were also employees from Highways England’s supply chain and representatives from the £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon major project, which is due to start construction next year subject to statutory processes. The scheme is local to Huntingdon and is set to provide many career opportunities in the coming years.

Chris Taylor, Director of Complex Infrastructure at Highways England, who oversees the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon major project, said “Construction is a really dynamic industry to work in and offers a huge range of interesting career opportunities – from contract and commercial management, to archaeology and ecology, as well as the more obvious construction and engineering paths.”

“The Huntingdonshire Careers Fair gave us a great opportunity to meet young people and talk to them about some of the fantastic prospects on offer in their local area and across the country.”

“We are committed to using the local workforce and businesses as much as possible. As well as delivering much needed journey improvements, we hope to leave a lasting legacy by improving skills and employment opportunities in the communities we are working for.”

Transport Minister Lord Ahmad said “Having a skilled workforce is essential if we want to build a strategic road network fit for the future. That is why the government is committed to delivering on its ambition for 30,000 transport apprenticeships by 2020, by investing in our next generation.”

“We welcome this Highways England initiative which demonstrates the wide range of careers options available in transport for high calibre young people.”

As students across the country get stuck into the new academic year, UK Construction Week is celebrating education and training of all kinds – highlighting that there is more than one way to build a successful and rewarding career in construction.

Key to this is the UK Construction Week Career Centre, a dedicated area within the Build Show where house builders, construction firms and other industry experts will be on hand to offer construction specific careers advice to visitors. Covering apprenticeships, on-going training and professional development, the centre will cater for all levels – from seasoned professionals scoping out their next move, to new starters looking for their first break into the construction sector.

Supported by a host of industry bodies, the Career Centre will give visitors a useful insight into a variety of career paths in building, civil engineering, integrated technology installation and other crucial construction trades. Key partners include the Home Builders Federation, the Institute of Civil Engineering and the Women’s Engineering Society, as well as construction skills and apprentices network K10 and major UK house builder Cala Homes.

Visitors will also be able to gain inspiration by hearing the stories of other people who have built a career for themselves in the industry. For example, Heidi Perry, a generator engineer at building machinery supplier Finning, will be sharing her experiences as a female apprenticeship in a male-dominated industry.

Heidi, who took up an apprenticeship after sixth form college, commented: “Finding an apprenticeship wasn’t easy so I applied to Finning to work in the parts department. It wasn’t my ideal job but it was a foot in the door. Luckily, at my interview they asked if I’d prefer to work on the machines and I landed an apprenticeship working on diesel standby generators.

“Now I travel across the country fault-finding, servicing, working on the electrical control systems or fixing broken parts. Apprenticeships are a great way to learn. If you’re thinking of making the move into construction, do it. It’s brilliant fun and you won’t regret it.”

Nathan Garnett, show director commented: “Employing more than 2.2 million people, the construction industry has been the major force behind the UK’s economic recovery – and with £125 billion of public sector and infrastructure projects in the pipeline, the demand for skilled workforce is set to create even more employment opportunities in the years to come. The Career Centre at UK Construction Week will be a really useful source of information for visitors looking to take advantage of this booming work market.”

Bringing together nine shows under one roof, UK Construction Week will be the biggest construction trade event the UK has seen in years. Taking place at the Birmingham NEC from 6 – 11 October (with the trade only days from 6 – 8 October) the event will unite 1,000 exhibitors with an expected audience of 55,000 visitors.

Visitors will be able to attend the Build Show (incorporating Civils Expo), Timber Expo, the Surface and Materials Show, Energy 2015, Kitchens & Bathrooms Live, Plant & Machinery Live, HVAC 2015, Smart Buildings 2015 and Grand Designs Live.

For more information please visit or follow @UK_CW on Twitter.