The Construction Industry: Jobs, Skills, Trends and Job Outlook
The construction industry encompasses a wide range of professions and trades involved in the building, remodelling, redevelopment and maintenance of buildings and other structures.
Construction sector professionals include the construction workers and labourers involved in laying foundations, erecting structural framework, building walls and installing floors and coverings, but also a whole range of other more specialized roles, from the heavy equipment operators who carry out earthworks and excavations (a key phase when preparing construction sites and laying foundations), right through to the professionals responsible for building finishing work, such as plasterers, sheet metal workers, building services installers (e.g. of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems), lift engineers, window and door installers, stonemasons and many others besides.
The construction industry comprises a number of different areas of activity, including residential construction (e.g. houses and flats), institutional construction (schools, hospitals and other public buildings), commercial construction (shops, offices and warehouses) and industrial construction (manufacturing facilities and power plants).
The sector also includes the construction and maintenance of urban infrastructure, such as water supply, sewerage and drainage systems, power networks and roads, as well as national infrastructure, such as motorways, railways, bridges and power plants.
An alternative way of looking at the construction sector is to divide it up into heavy construction, which includes carrying out excavations and earthworks, laying foundations, building walls and performing demolitions and light construction, which includes painting and decorating, insulating, and draught, damp and waterproofing.
Employment opportunities in the Construction sector vary widely, ranging from entry-level positions that typically require basic building and construction qualifications followed by on the job training, to roles calling for more extensive experience and knowledge of specific construction methods and an ability to supervise work teams and coordinate work site activities.
What types of businesses operate in the Construction industry?
A large number of different companies operate in the construction sector. These include general building and construction firms and contractors capable of handling the entire construction process, but also firms that specialize in specific operations (e.g. earthworks, reinforced concrete or external cladding), specific construction materials or methods (e.g.green housing), or in providing services such as remodelling, redevelopment and restoration. In addition, there are companies involved in the production and sale of building materials (e.g. brick, stone, gravel, sand, timber, metal and sheet metal, glass, doors and windows and prefabricated modules) and firms providing building maintenance services.
Businesses operating in the construction sector vary in size. There are a number of large national - and in some cases international - businesses, but there is also a veritable galaxy of small and very small building firms, some of which consist of single self-employed individuals.
Companies hiring in the Construction/Building sector:
Construction Industry - Trends and Job Outlook
The construction industry is a key sector for a country’s economy, encompassing a vast variety of companies, from large national and international construction companies, right through to smaller building firms and self-employed contractors, as well as all of the businesses involved in related industries, such as manufacturers of building materials, semi-finished products and prefabricated components.
The fortunes of the construction industry are closely linked to the performance of other sectors of the economy. When the economy is in good health, the construction industry is the first to see the positive effects, with increased spending and a rise in employment. By the same token, it is also the first to experience the negative effects of an economic downturn.
One of the main factors influencing employment trends in the construction industry are developments in technology. The emergence of new construction methods, techniques and processes, development of new high-performance materials, the increasingly advanced possibilities achievable using prefabricated components and the introduction of innovative equipment and machinery are leading to increased efficiency and making building labourers’ jobs easier.
In the long-term, such innovations will lead to a fall in demand for unskilled manual workers and labourers, but are also likely to stimulate demand for skilled, specialized workers.
Additionally, the technological advances being made are creating favourable conditions for the emergence of innovative businesses, such as those specializing in electrical, electronic and mechanical building services, such as building performance monitoring and smart home automation systems.
What skills are required in the Construction industry?
Here are some of the skills required for job vacancies in the construction industry:
Physical strength and stamina
Building work requires physical strength and stamina, since it involves lifting and moving heavy loads and working on one’s feet for long periods of time. Equally important is the ability to work safely and correctly, since bad working habits and failure to observe safety rules and standards can lead to accidents and injuries, which can sometimes be very serious.
Most construction industry workers perform manual work (e.g. bricklayers, sheet metal workers or upholsterers) and indeed are often judged on their ability to perform manual operations quickly, safely and accurately. Strong manual skills are therefore an essential requirement for anybody wishing to pursue a career in the building sector.
Planning and organizational skills
Not all the workers on a building site are manual workers. There are also site managers and construction directors responsible for coordinating the work of teams of labourers and technicians, liaising with clients and ensuring that cost and time objectives are met. In these roles, managerial, planning and organizational skills are all very important.
The construction sector is highly regulated. There are codes and standards establishing the materials and methods that can be employed in a given situation, as well as a host of other regulatory requirements, including building permits and many others besides. To ensure work is carried out to the required standard and in accordance with all relevant legislation, construction sector workers must therefore have a clear understanding of the regulations applicable in their geographical location and to their specific field of activity.
Technical drawings and specifications
Constructions are based on designs produced by architects and building engineers. An ability to read, understand and implement construction drawings is therefore a transversal requirement for all construction industry professionals.
Construction - Job Descriptions
Interested in finding out more about jobs in the Construction sector?
Take a look at the job descriptions we’ve prepared: