Construction apprentices can earn more than university graduates, says FMB

New research published during National Apprenticeship Week by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), has revealed that construction apprentices can go on to earn significantly more every year than various university-educated professionals. 

The findings have encouraged the FMB to urge parents, teachers and young people to give the industry a second thought before embarking on other careers - a move which it hopes will change misconceptions surrounding the construction sector.

The study has been collaborated after the trade body contacted small building firms across the UK and asked for average salaries within their companies. The results showed that those in construction earned thousands more than those who were university educated. 

For example, site managers can earn almost £10,000 a year more than pharmacists, while painters and decorators earn more than £2,500 a year more than nurses, according to the FMB, while the highest reported annual salary for bricklayers in London was £90,000 a year.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Money talks, and when it comes to annual salaries, a career in construction trumps many university graduate roles. The average university graduate earns £32,000 a year whereas your average bricky or roofer is earning £42,000 a year across the UK. Indeed in London, a bricklayer is commanding wages of up to £90,000 a year.”

It’s hoped the findings will mean young people will give “serious consideration” to a career in construction and help fill the skills shortage that continues to plague the industry as a whole.

Average UK annual salaries by trade:

Site managers – £51,266

Plumbers – £48,675

Supervisors – £48,407

Electricians – £47,265

Civil engineering operatives – £44,253

Steel fixers – £44,174

Roofers – £42,303

Bricklayers – £42,034

Carpenters and joiners – £41,413

Plasterers – £41,045

Scaffolders – £40,942

Floorers – £39,131

Plant operatives – £38,409

Painters and decorators – £34,587

General construction operatives – £32,392

Berry added: “The construction industry is in the midst of an acute skills crisis and we are in dire need of more young people, including women and ethnic minorities, to join us. Our latest research shows that more than two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers and 63% are having problems hiring carpenters. This is a stark reminder of how the government’s housing targets could be scuppered by a lack of skilled workers. The FMB is committed to working to improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships because the only way we will build a sustainable skills base is by training more young people, and to a high standard.”

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