There’s more to the Built Environment than bricks and mortar. As a graduate entering this sector you could find yourself working on the design of a super-structure such as the Olympic Stadium in east London, project managing the build of a new school, or overseeing the conservation of one of our historic country houses.
The UK has a reputation for world-class design, inspirational architecture and high quality building work. In fact, the Built Environment is this country’s biggest employer – one in every 14 people works in construction – and it is also the UK’s biggest export, generating over £1 billion a year. However, in the past the sector has suffered from a poor image and has often not been the first choice of career for many young people, particularly women and young black and Asian people. Now, the perception of the construction industry is definitely improving, and in order to achieve this ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry, has made huge efforts to show women and young black and Asian ethnic minorities the times are changing, and there is so much more on offer than might have previously been assumed. Through its national recruitment campaign, Positive Image, ConstructionSkills is promoting construction careers and presenting an appealing image of the industry to encourage young people to ‘make their mark’ on the built environment.
This is an industry that is a vital pillar of society and has a huge contribution to make to everyone’s quality of life. What’s more, it is constantly growing and renewing itself. According to ConstructionSkills, between 2007 and 2011 construction in the UK will continue the trend of growth it has enjoyed for the last decade. In 2005, 2.41 million people were employed in construction and that figure is expected to rise to more than 2.8 million by 2011. This means on average 87,600 new construction workers will need to be recruited each year. This figure includes many roles for the more academically minded. ConstructionSkills is predicting the UK will need 32 per cent more recruits in roles such as Construction Manager, Architect and other technical staff in the next five years.
The great variety of what is done on different projects in different places is one of the biggest attractions of the sector for many people who do not want the normal desk-based 9 to 5 routine. New recruits could find themselves working on a new road bridge, on a building site, in a design office, or travelling around the country visiting National Heritage sites in a variety of different roles.
JOBS IN THE SECTOR
All construction or refurbishment projects start with the practical ideas of an Architect who draws up plans and designs. The job of a Building Services Engineer is to install all the utilities that buildings need to function properly. All existing buildings need maintenance and repair, which is the chief task of a Building Surveyor. When buildings are renovated or valued, the project is planned by a General Practice Surveyor. The monitoring of the running costs of a project is carried out by a Quantity Surveyor. Structural Engineers assess whether standing structures (such as bridges) can continue to operate safely.
Helping to protect the UK’s building heritage is the Building Conservation Officer, who is resposible for historic buildings such as lighthouses, windmills, churches, country houses and even our manufacturing heritage such as mills and factories. And if you’re interested in devising the whole urban (and rural) environment, you can aim to be a Town (and Country) Planner. Major design projects, such as those for highways, harbours and airports, are the responsibility of a Civil Engineer. A Geospacial Modeller produces computerised 3-D models of natural and built landscapes in order to help plan construction projects.
In order to know how each project might affect the marine environment (or be affected by it), reports are drawn up by a Hydrographic Surveyor. A Land Surveyor measures and records landscape features to produce models and maps for construction projects and information. The quality of the outdoor spaces that surround us is the province of the Landscape Architect.
As the name implies, a Project Manager monitors the planning, management, co-ordination and financial control of a construction project.
If you are a graduate (usually in a relevant subject such as civil and structural engineering), you can expect a high level of responsibility when you enter the profession. You will be trained for highly specialised or management positions and will have the opportunity to gain professional qualifications, such as chartered status. So if you’ve never considered a job in the Built Environment, now is a great time to explore what could be in it for you.