If you look around, construction is everywhere. As a career area it’s almost too big to describe, because construction comprises the whole creation, planning, design and financing of projects from outset to completion. It generates countless jobs, requires teamwork, skill and knowledge of materials and techniques. Quite simply, construction is one of the greatest examples of human ingenuity and brilliance we have.

It’s hard to imagine a line of work that’s more exciting to be a part of, and in recent years Northern Ireland has been a fantastic place to be for a career in construction, because of the proud industry there is here, which achieves pioneering work at home and across the world. Construction levels in Northern Ireland may have fallen at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, but many large scale projects soon restarted across Belfast and beyond, including housing schemes, grade A office space and mixed-use developments. At South West College a prime example is right at our feet: the new Erne Campus in Enniskillen is incorporating some of the newest and most exciting elements of construction.

Better yet, Northern Ireland is also a leader when it comes to construction education, so if you’re a young person interested in getting into the industry, there’s never been a better time. Few industries have as many options when it comes to getting qualified, with opportunities varying from apprenticeships, further education, and university degrees, depending on the exact line of construction you want to get into. Now, South West College also presents the opportunity of the Future Construction Leaders Programme.

So what jobs are there in construction? Well, there’s plenty to choose from. Building surveyor, quantity surveyor, construction manager, site engineer, and labourer are all part of the construction industry.

There no shortage of jobs to choose from, and because they all require certain qualifications and experience, there’s no shortage of ways to get qualified for the industry. For a long time, university was considered the only way to get to the top of any industry and earn the best jobs. However, people are beginning to see that degrees and apprenticeships are no longer two completely separate journeys, but merely different paths. There’s no industry where this is more relevant than in construction.

Construction degrees are still popular, but construction apprenticeships at Further and Higher Education College’s allow students to learn all the necessary theory, while also allowing them to get out into the workplace early and often – with the very strong benefit of working and earning money while they learn.

Construction has more than one pathway, but one thing is for sure, at the end of them all there is an exciting career to be had. Having managed to stay steady over the course of the last decade, the construction industry continues to flourish and play a major role in the economy, and there’s been an overall increase in construction output in Northern Ireland since 2013. As an industry it continues to change with the times, and is currently being shaped more and more by the drive for sustainable construction solutions, which support the development of buildings with reduced energy demands, which benefit the environment.

At South West College, applications are now open for the Construction Leaders Programme. This programme is funded by Economy NI and aims to build Northern Irelands capacity for skills vital to the future of construction. Targeted at supporting those who have become unemployed in the construction sector due to Covid-19, this programme provides the opportunity for individuals who currently hold a Level 2 qualification to upskill to a ILM Level 3 Leadership and Management Practice for the Construction sector and a Level 4 qualification in Passive Trades accredited by the Passive House Institute. Both these qualifications, in combination, will prepare participants to take up new employment opportunities in the future ‘green’ low carbon construction industry. The closing date to apply is Tuesday 8th December