Skills Needed for a Job in Construction

Posted: 26th of March 2019 by Lewis Scott

Liz Scott, Head of HR at Actavo Direct:

The global construction industry is booming, with growth forecasted to hit figures of $8 trillion by 2030. With the UK set to be at the centre of European growth, a career in construction can offer versatility and progression.

Construction roles cover all skills, from scaffolding and engineering to surveying and site management, so there’s something to peak all interests.

Here, Liz Scott, Head of HR at Actavo Direct, explains the key skills needed to thrive in the construction industry.

Safety first

The physical nature of construction work means there are always risks to identify and avoid. Although most organisations will have a dedicated health and safety or HR professional, all employees will be expected to demonstrate knowledge of safety best practice.

Anyone looking to excel in construction should invest time in understanding risk assessment. It’s the ability to review a working environment for every possible safety hazard and note how to remove or control them.

Whether you’re on site or working in a role which manages others, everyone has a responsibility to pitch in with risk assessment.

There are plenty of resources available covering health and safety in different depths. Those looking to develop a foundation understanding before entering a building site should check out the government’s bank of resources on health and safety, which includes talks, guides and even case studies looking at health and safety in action.

For those keenly interested in the health and safety side of construction, there are online training courses and apprenticeships available, providing a complete overview to prepare for a future role.

Communication is key

With 85 percent of UK construction projects experiencing delays, being able to communicate is crucial, both internally among a team and externally with clients and stakeholders.

There are so many external influences that can affect construction projects, like weather, staff absence and approval processes. When these occur, communication is key in ensuring all staff know which jobs can still be fulfilled, which must be rescheduled and all their changing responsibilities.

Outside of the company, it’s also important to manage client expectations. Clients must be updated with any delays, additional costs or schedule changes as soon as possible.

Those managing a site may have to send emails and even signpost hazards on site. In these communications, writing clearly and concisely is integral, as the human attention span lasts just 8.25 seconds.

There is a bank of articles, podcasts and courses online aimed at improving communication skills, covering speaking to different audiences, for different purposes and more.

Use your initiative

The construction industry is volatile, with schedule changes a frustrating norm. During these periods, staff can’t afford to simply wait around for the next instruction or until adverse weather clears.

So, when – for example - bad weather disrupts the schedule, it’s important to be able to decide which activities you can complete, and which are too dangerous in the conditions.

Although initiative isn’t something that can necessarily be taught, it comes with a knowledge of your industry and best practice. To exercise initiative in the construction industry you need to first demonstrate a good understanding of the safest and most efficient way to execute every task.

Young people can learn about the industry by checking out the Health and Safety Executive’s leaflet hub, full of digestible advice.

Tap into tech

Anyone working in the construction industry needs to be tech-literate. Technology is becoming a key tool in construction projects, from design to preconstruction and even project management.

Those working in design can now use innovative 5D modelling software to imagine detailed buildings and modern site surveyors have access to high-definition mapping and geolocation software.

Project managers are shifting towards software tools for recording plans, budgets, document management and more, rather than using paper documents. The Internet of Things (IoT) even helps on-site, with activities like equipment monitoring, inventory management and safety.

While most young people are versed in technology, those considering a career in the admin or project management side of construction could benefit from higher-level digital skills training courses.

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