Getting into Engineering/Construction Industry in mid 20's in the UK?

Hello, (sorry about this totally random post)

I figured there must be quite a few people on here in engineering/construction in varying roles.

My partner is British and we moved to the UK because he wanted to do a music degree, 2 years in, he’s realised it really isn’t something he wants to do for a living, it’s sucking his love of music right out of him!

He really wants to get into engineering (he’s not entirely sure of pathway yet) He’s previously worked in Australia as a welder on a port building cages for cement pile-ones, he’s worked for a stone mason company building stone kitchens, all sorts of random roles and is just on of those people who is naturally technically minded and picks up anything quickly and excels at what he does.

But, I don’t have any experience with this industry, especially in the UK, I’m going to start looking at apprenticeship options etc for him. Back in Australia if you didn’t hop into a trade at 16 you had no hope of getting anywhere in any industry like that again.

Is it possible to get an apprenticeship and break into the industry at 25 or are there other avenues? Salary isn’t an issue, he’s happy to work for a pittance to get a foot through the door.

Any experience or advice would be much appreciated =)

100% design is on at earls court next week, might be worth registering for entry (it’s free)
If nothing else, he could get some contacts, especially in the higher end of the market.

Also, check out CIN (construction industry news) and the like. It’s tough out there at the moment, not because of a lack of jobs,
more that there are a lot of people looking so a USP is so very important. That said, I’m sure there are people on here with other ideas too. :slight_smile:

Apprenticeships are generally difficult to get into if you’re over 18, even harder if you’re over 21. However that’s not to say it can’t be done.

There’s plenty of info on

I’ve worked in construction for around 18 years in various forms. Started out as a setting out engineer on motorway construction, currently a project engineer/manager on major concrete frame projects and I’ve done an array of admin/construction management/engineering jobs in between.

Step one is probably to work out what he means by ‘engineering role’ and what sort of work he’s interested in. Does he want to be involved in design, installation, supervision or management? Does he want to work on heavy structural stuff, fit out, M&E services?

In the concrete world, common route to my role would be starting out as a setting out engineer and gradually moving in from site to more office based stuff (quality control engineer, senior engineer etc) and that’s pretty much the route I’ve followed. Some larger companies have graduate schemes for non-construction related degrees where they’ll transfer you from one department to the next on rotation so you get experience of engineering/commercial management/health & safety etc. - well worth looking out for. See if you can find any construction/engineering career fair type things, there are a few through the year

Apprenticeships are not as common as they used to be in my area of work and probably not the route for him at 25 but there are still engineering apprenticeships out there. I don’t know how it is now but the money for apprenticeships used to be really bad, certainly at the start.

If he has welding experience & tickets then getting more UK site experience might be a way to make a few contacts while bringing in some cash.

If all else fails, I’ve worked in admin roles within construction when I was younger that have lead on to engineering/management roles - once you’re on site and start meeting people they’re usually happy to get a bit of help in exchange for a giving you some experience, especially if you show a bit of interest and aptitude. One of them I just new a mate who knew a guy who needed someone to order material/deal with paperwork etc and another I went to an agency to take any old role in construction - ended up in document control (basically dealing with issuing drawings etc to contractors) and then gradually started giving the site guys a hand until I was completely ‘site management’ based.

Also, the industry is definitely picking back up at the moment - from the top of our job near the city you can see tower cranes springing up everywhere, we were struggling to get decent guys in some roles last month when a new project started up so this is probably not a bad time to be getting a foot in the door.

I’m 27 and just got into an apprenticeship/training role within engineering in design. Its very hard, I’m not going to lie, the biggest issue lies with funding. After 25, ECITB will not fund the apprentice, hence why companies aim for younger candidates.

The main reason I was able to get in was because I managed to get my foot through the door as a tech clerk in the company, made friends with the right people etc and was referred and signed up. I still had to go through the rigorous interview process; maths test, presentation, group exercise and eventually the proper interviews!

BUT it is completely possible, its just a question of starting out from somewhere, taking a keen interest and getting to know the right people. At least on my side of the industry, the major problem they are facing is that they have an aging work force; the majority of knowlegable and experienced engineers are all approaching retirement and when that hits, theres going to be a huge gap that needs to be filled. The government has recently set up some apprenticeship/funding schemes targetting would-be ‘mature’ students as it seems theres a lot out there who now want to go back into training etc as well as a need for it. The industry is taking on more apprentices now than in the last 10 years so its definitely a positive and he just has to gun for it.

I work for an energy company and they take loads of apprentices… however I work in the corporate function so have no idea what requirements are. Age shouldn’t be a factor (as it’s illegal to discriminate on age).

As a few of them run stations (coal, nuclear, gas) etc there may be opportunities with one of them?

+1 for what <a onmouseover=“window.status = window.location;return true;” onmouseout=“window.status=’’;return true;” href=“”>monkimark said

you will also need to get a CSCS card if you wanna work on site so to speak

I would defo go the welder route and see what happens

& im 32 years construction industry

worked my way up to design manager for a very large main contractor

Age is a factor because of government funding unfortunately.

im 2 years into Network Rails apprenticeship scheme.

Theres no upper age limit (we had people mid 30s in my year), though you do have to live on a navy base in fareham (near portsmouth) for 9 months.

Ah yes, CSCS card. A very clever scam in my opinion but one that all the main contractors have bought into, which pretty much means you’ll need one to work on any decent sized site in London.

They recently brought out some new card types for qualified people but before that I had to do a level 5 NVQ (complete waste of time) to get a managers card despite already having an engineering degree and construction management HND.

Yup that’s the same with us… have to live somewhere near portsmouth for a bit.

Theres a couple at the same place, Babcock run it.

though NR are only there 9 months, the others are 2 years i think

Yeah sounds about right…

monkimark (10/09/2014)

Ah yes, CSCS card. A very clever scam in my opinion but one that all the main contractors have bought into, which pretty much means you’ll need one to work on any decent sized site in London.

They recently brought out some new card types for qualified people but before that I had to do a level 5 NVQ (complete waste of time) to get a managers card despite already having an engineering degree and construction management HND.[/quote]

my cscs card ran out & I haven’t renewed it

its a total load of crap thought up by someone who doesn’t have a girlfriend and drinks energy drinks to stay awake in front of internet porn

im in a senior position have all the correct qualifications’ but can only have a visitors card as I don’t Have & wont do any NVQ’s

I refuse to do them & will retire if they want to try to force me to do them

Rant Over

It might be worth having a look at their website if you need a card - you can get a silver card now by having a relevant HNC/HND/degree/Nebosh etc or by being a member of a professional body and they have a load of new card types.

On the other hand, if you don’t need to have a card then I wouldn’t bother to give them £35 for a bit of plastic that proves nothing.

I doubt there is a site you can get on in London that does not require a CSCS card . And now one of the new cards is a welders card red, blue ,gold ,black depending on starting qualifications … And to add to the scam a TWI card only gets you the base CSCS card …This is to force you to do one of their NVQ wastes of time . I had to do one, only been doing the job for 20 years , not enough , had to do a NVQ … it was a big fat waste of time . We all had to do one , even Danny at 57 years old had to do one … ridiculous . And us fitters are really known for our ability to deal with sitting down and writing crap to weirdly asked questions that make little sense for hours :pinch: … we can stand and talk crap … we good at that …if we have a cup of coffee :laugh: