Industry News

Construction apprentices will earn more than university students

Construction apprentices will go on to earn thousands of pounds more, every year, than many of their university-educated counterparts, according to the latest research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Small building firms across the UK were asked what they pay their tradespeople and the average annual salaries were as follows:

  • Site managers earn £51,266;
  • Plumbers earn £48,675;
  • Supervisors earn £48,407;
  • Electricians earn £47,265;
  • Civil engineering operatives earn £44,253;
  • Steel fixers earn £44,174;
  • Roofers earn £42,303;
  • Bricklayers earn £42,034;
  • Carpenters and joiners earn £41,413;
  • Plasterers earn £41,045;
  • Scaffolders earn £40,942;
  • Floorers earn £39,131;
  • Plant operatives earn £38,409;
  • Painters and decorators earn £34,587;
  • General construction operatives earn £32,392.

The highest reported annual salary for bricklayers in London was £90,000 a year. However, the UK’s university graduates earn the following average annual salaries:

  • Pharmacists earn £42,252;
  • Dental practitioners earn £40,268;
  • Architects earn £38,228;
  • Teachers earn £37,805;
  • Chartered and certified accountants earn £37,748;
  • Midwives earn £36,188;
  • Veterinarians earn £36,446;
  • Physiotherapists earn £32,065;
  • Nurses earn £31,867.

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 in England earns £32,000 a year whereas our latest research shows that your average bricky or roofer is earning £42,000 a year across the UK.

“In London, a bricklayer is commanding wages of up to £90,000 a year. Pursuing a career in construction is therefore becoming an increasingly savvy move. University students in England will graduate with an average £50,800 of debt, according to The Institute for Fiscal Studies, while apprentices pass the finish line completely debt-free. Not only that, apprentices earn while they learn, taking home around £17,000 a year.

“We are therefore calling on all parents, teachers and young people, who too-often favour academic education, to give a career in construction serious consideration.”

Berry concluded: “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 per cent 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 with the Government 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.”