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Building a Future - Career Opportunities in Civil Engineering

Posted by: Joseph Readman
20/12/2017
The Industry – What You Really Want to Know

The U.K. Government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) has published a new National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline confirming a record £500 billion public and private investment in UK infrastructure. This follows closely on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement promising a £23 billion National Productivity Fund to invest in future construction and infrastructure skills to fill the current skills gap.

This is the largest ever and most comprehensive Infrastructure and Construction pipeline with the government supporting 40% of the proposed projects, and the private sector financing more than half. With the help of the pipeline, important local projects including transport, housing, broadband, and flood defence will be delivered across the country.

At the heart of the government’s plans to close the productivity gap in the UK is an investment in better infrastructure, and the NPIF has been created to boost long-term productivity. Through the pipeline, infrastructure investment in the UK is set to reach a record high, creating a golden era in UK infrastructure. The pipeline includes investments for the improvement of transport networks of over £2.6 billion, new home construction of over £7.2 billion, and a multi-million-pound investment in accelerating the future of broadband.

Civil Engineering Jobs

A major challenge to the construction of these projects is finding enough skilled labour in civil engineering and quantity surveying to meet the increasing demand for the right talent to forge ahead with the ambitious infrastructure plans the government has for the country. With around twenty percent of civil engineers set to retire in the next fifteen years, the amount of newly qualified professionals currently entering the industry will not be enough for planned projects such as London’s Super Sewer and Hinkley Point C.

One such project that will require a huge number of skilled engineers is the £4.3 billion, 6-year Thames Tideway Tunnel scheme, expected to be completed in 2023. At its peak, it is expected to create 4,350 direct construction jobs and a further 5,100 indirect jobs. According to the head of skills and employment at Tideway, Scott Young, the engineering opportunities offered are unparalleled with a huge variety of skills required by talented construction engineers and specialists in tunnelling. Working on such large-scale projects as the Tideway Tunnel will be a challenging and rewarding career path that will allow engineers to develop transferable skills.

Work is currently underway at Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset, providing 25,000 jobs on the largest construction site in Europe. Other mega-projects are Heathrow Terminal 3, the Trans-Pennine Road Tunnel, and the HS2 high-speed railway connection expected to create around 25,000 new construction jobs. This project will demand higher skill levels compared to other rail projects. About half of the required workforce will be required to have level-3 skills, and yet eighty percent of the construction workforce in the UK only receive training up to level-2. In order to bridge this gap the High Speed Rail National College will be opening the most advanced institutions with campuses in Doncaster and Birmingham to provide industry-led training for school-leavers and career-changers.

Getting Ready for 2018 and Beyond

There have never been better opportunities in the UK to pursue civil engineering careers within the construction industry. Continued infrastructure investment by the government will ensure a high demand for skilled civil engineers with plenty of opportunities to work on proposed future projects in the UK. This is good news for job seekers in sectors directly affected to get ready for these projects by updating their CVs, getting further training, or even changing careers. At junior level apprentices and graduates can build a career within civil engineering in the sectors they are most interested in with the assurance that there will be plenty of job opportunities supplied by the exciting current infrastructure drive in the UK. And experienced engineers, looking to change to a different sector can use their existing skills to gain experience and move on to better opportunities in their preferred sector.

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