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NCW2023 - Construction and the Built Environment

Today for National Careers Week we are looking at construction and the built environment sector - which incidentally you can explore for yourself, in person, at Home Park this Saturday between 10am and 2pm at the Early Careers Fair.

There's more than meets the eye when it comes to this key growth sector - it currently employs around 9% of Plymouth’s workforce. With over 180 different job roles available, Plymouth has key skills shortages of quantity surveyors, estimators, site managers, civil engineers, and digital technologies as well as many trade skills being in high demand such as bricklaying.

With a massive construction programme ahead, including the redevelopment of Devonport Dockyard, new healthcare facilities at Derriford, along with the building of new homes, Plymouth is crying out for people to train in and work in construction.

Helping to respond to the local demand is the city-wide sector skills partnership Building Plymouth. Building Plymouth is made up of 60 member organisations, each with a host of vacancies and opportunities including apprenticeships, veteran specific roles and training and green skills positions.

For the latest vacancies, click here - Sponsor Job Vacancies (


Looking to train for a career in the construction and built environment sector? Outside of school-based provision, there are several routes of entry – so there is something to suite everyone:


An apprenticeship is paid employment with a structured programme of learning lasting at least 12 months for people aged 16 and over. Apprentices spend the majority of their time in the workplace and an average of at least six hours per week in off-the-job training with a college, university or training provider. Off-the-job training may take place on the same day each week or for one or more weeks at a time, known as block release.

There are over 100 construction-related apprenticeships at four different levels covering qualification levels 2 to 7.

College training

Further education at a college is an alternative to sixth form for students who have completed their GCSEs in Year 11. Learning takes place in both a classroom and a more practical environment and there may be a requirement for and industry placement with an employer.

Each course will have an entry requirement which is likely to include English and maths GCSEs.


T Levels are an alternative to A Levels delivered in a sixth form or at college over two years for 16 to 19 year olds.

Aimed at preparing students for further training and employment, T levels are focussed on vocational and technical skills and include an industry placement with an employer lasting at least 45 days.

On completing a T Level, students will get a nationally recognised qualification equivalent to three A levels with UCAS Tariff points along with practical skills and work experience.


A traineeship is a skills development programme lasting between six weeks and one year (although most take less than six months) which includes an industry placement of 70 hours or more with an employer.

Traineeships are for 16 to 24 year olds (or 25 year olds with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan) who need to gain appropriate skills and experience before starting an apprenticeship or employment. They are not designed for those:

1. who already have qualifications above GCSE level

2. with skills and experience that make them suitable for work

3. already in full-time employment, or

4. disengaged young people who require intensive support.

Some have already been developed with an industry-agreed programme, for example Bricklaying, and employers and training providers can also develop their own to include the core elements.


Until they are 18 years old, a young person must:

1. stay in full-time education, for example at a college;

2. start an apprenticeship or traineeship; or

3. spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training.

A young person in their first construction job, and not on a formal training programme, is likely to start as a labourer. As well as giving young people experience of working in the industry to see if it suits them, this enables employers to identify potential apprentices and trainees. It is essential that an induction, health, safety and other essential training, suitable supervision and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are provided. Within six months to a year, a suitable occupation is usually identified which will determine the qualifications and training required.


Higher Education at a university is for students who have typically completed Further Education and obtained suitable qualifications, such as A Levels, BTECs, HNCs or HNDs.

With the exception of Degree Apprenticeships, courses are usually fulltime with learning taking place in a classroom, although there may be an option or requirement for an industry placement with an employer.

Some construction employers sponsor university students, which may include financial support, industry placements and employment at the end of the course. Each university will determine its entry requirements, which may include particular A Level grades and/or UCAS Tariff points.

If entering employment, their first role in construction is likely to be a graduate or trainee role which will provide further training and/or work experience as required.

Additional resources

To explore specific job roles in the sector, as well as information on salary, work patterns, the different entry routes and what skills you will need, click here to explore free resources via the National Careers Service.

For more localised information on Plymouth’s construction and built environment sector, click here for the Building Plymouth website.


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