Online – Construction Pathway Course

Building your construction career foundation…

So, you’ve decided that you wish to pursue a career in the construction industry but are unsure where to start.

And that’s understandable, the industry accounts for approximately 3 million jobs, 10% of total UK employment, which is made up of hundreds, if not thousands of different roles.

Tradesperson / Construction Operative. 
Carpenter, Plumber, Electrician, Bricklayer, digger driver etc. Typically this type of work is very much hands-on, requires attention to detail and the ability to work as apart of a team.

The most common starting point for this type of career is a college-based qualification, an apprenticeship or by starting out as a general labourer.

Professional / Academic 
Site manager, Surveyor, Architect etc. Typically this work is most suited to those who wish to continue their education and attend University. That said, having the benefit of many years site experience, a large majority of construction operatives naturally progress into professional roles later in their career.

The following course has been designed as a road map to support aspiring tradespeople and site operatives on their journey into the construction industry by seeking an apprenticeship or beginning as a labourer.

60% of South West construction companies report a negative impact due to the shortage of skilled workers

Apprenticeship information
College information


Step One:   Safety first…

Whether you are applying for an advertised role and competing against multiple applications, or using our preferred method of directly targeting employers you would like to work for, one of the most effective ways to stand out from the competition is to demonstrate your commitment to practising a safety-conscious career in construction.

If you do not have any health and safety training qualifications then we recommend investing in one or more online courses, although not essential, they prove your commitment whilst also evidencing your safety awareness and you receive the intended benefit of reducing your risk of a real-life accident once you get on site.

Link>  Commodious  –  Working At Height  –  £12
Link>  Commodious  –  Asbestos Awareness  –  £12

Link>  Commodious  –  Construction Bundle  –  14 courses  –  £42
Link>  CIOB  –  Health & Safety at Work  –  £18


If your potential employer carries out large scale or commercial projects there is a very good chance that you will require a CSCS Labourer Card.  However, if a company only engages in projects for the general public / residential clients then they often do not require you to have a CSCS card to access site.

There are many ways to obtain this card, the most popular method requires you to attend a one day Level 1 Award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment – you can find providers of this in your local area using a web browser search. Typical cost of training £150*.

Following the completion of the training day, you then apply for your CSCS Card which costs an additional £36*.

*If you are in receipt of income support or additional help from a community-based support provider you may be eligible to apply for funding.

Step Two:  Basic C.V. 

A C.V. should always be tailored to reflect the wants and needs of your employer. With regard to design, you can use the Basic C.V Example to the left as a template to build with design software such as Microsoft Word or Publisher. We also highly recommend the website who have a brilliant, free online C.V. designer.

TIP  1: One-page design
A simple one-page design with colourful header will catch the employers attention while easing their burden and workload. Undoubtedly they will receive many multiple page C.V.’s and will be thankful for your concise, well-presented application.

TIP  2:  Keywords  
A top tip is to go through your target employers job advertisement and website and take out keywords that can be used to describe you and your past experiences.

They may be words such as Motivated, Punctual, Health and Safety, Team Work, Customer Service, Client-Focused, Operating Equipment etc. Skills and personality traits that show that you are a people person, practical and good with your hands or operating machinery.

TIP  3:  Be honest (it’s a legal requirement), confident, but do not oversell yourself.
It can be tempting to display skills not relating to construction, such as web design for instance or a managerial qualification, but in general, this may go against you if the employer thinks that you are perhaps over-qualified or your passion truly lies in another form of career.

TIP 4:  Make it personal
If you are super keen to work with a specific company then use their name in the introduction. It’s a sure-fire way to stand out and the employer will be impressed that you took the time to do so.

TIP 5:  Emphasise your skills and interests
Highlight your skills and interests that might support your applications, such as any hands-on, creative or construction based hobbies as well as team-focused sports or associations. This is particularly important if you have little experience in the relevant industry, as it shows you have a general interest and perhaps transferable skills and personal qualities that would benefit your potential new role.

Once complete, save in a PDF format so that it can be printed or sent via social media and email.

TOP TIP:  Save the PDF with the company name included to make it easier to locate and send – e.g. ‘Thomas Harris C.V. – Paragon Carpentry’.

Step 3:  Demonstrate your good character 

If you are looking to gain experience to both boost your construction knowledge and improve your C.V., the two best ways to do this is by volunteering or carrying out unpaid work experience.

Connect with your community
A quick search on Google or Facebook will bring up a list of local charities and community projects. Engaging in projects like these allows you to gain some hands-on experience, meet positive people who contribute to their community and this also gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your character and career intention to potential employers.

If you are unable to find any projects local to you then consider planning a small project yourself. Reach out to local groups and ask if they require help with anything. Perhaps the community hall needs a quick lick of paint, or the local rough sleeper outreach team would like their stock room tidied and some shelves built.

No matter how limited you think your skills are, there will be someone local to you that will be beyond grateful for you reaching out to them and your offering support.


Seek out unpaid work experience
One of the biggest worries for a construction employer is that ‘green’ (inexperienced) trainees will not enjoy physical labour. As you begin your construction career you will undoubtedly see many new starters either not come back on their second day or walk off before lunch on their first. Hard graft is most definitely not for everyone.

If you’re prepared to carry out unpaid work experience it shows that you are committed, but also that you understand the work ethic required to make a positive contribution on site. By completing this task you’ll also acquire some basic skills, skills that can be demonstrated when you start your work trial with your new employer – you’ll hit the ground running!

No one wants to work for free and we most definitely do not want you to be taken advantage of. We recommend that you request one day’s work experience with a local, well-respected company. This might be a great opportunity for you to try more than one trade to see which you prefer?

To the right you will find example text to use when contacting a local business.

It is a legal requirement for your employer to provide you with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), that said, it would be best to buy your own as due to you only being with them for one day, the cost of the PPE may present as a barrier to those wishing to support your introduction to the industry – which is essentially free training!

There are many ways to contact local businesses (see Step 5); by email is best, though Facebook is very convenient – but please do note!! Before you send anything via Facebook please consider what other people may be able to view on your profile. A potential #awkward moment if you’re telling the employer that you’re ready to commit to a career and your profile shows images of you dancing on tables in your local on a Tuesday night!

Step 4:  Designing your enhanced C.V.

Take a look at the C.V. to the right. Despite having zero paid construction experience, it is very clear that Thomas is committed to and positioning himself for a career in carpentry.

By now you may be bored of hearing the word, but commitment is the single most important factor when considering someone for a position within a company.

In Step 4 we mentioned the purchase of PPE.

Safety boots £20
Hi-vis vest £3
Safety glasses £3
Safety gloves £2
Hard hat £4 (not essential for all jobs)

Another solid indicator of your positive intention is the purchase of your own PPE and basic tools.

Buying even the most basic tools and knowing how to use them reassures the employer that you have considered what it is you need to do to contribute to the team and that a day or more won’t be taken up with teaching you the basics.

Tape measure £4
Folding work knife £8
16oz claw hammer £4.50

TOP TIP: No matter which career pathway you choose you will need to use a tape measure. Spend some time measuring things, understanding that instead of 1.2 metres, most tradespeople would shout ‘1200’ (millimetres). This may sound rather basic, but sites are fast-paced and projects can be severely hindered if measurements are not understood.

Step 5:  Reaching out to employers

If you speak to business owners they will often tell you that recruiting staff if the single largest hurdle they face with regard to growing their company, as advertising a role can be a costly and very labour intensive process due to the high level of interest.

If they have so much interest then why is it so hard to find new staff?
Applications are typically split into four groups:

1: Disinterested / only applying to keep their Work Coach happy – 50%
2: Disinterested / no experience – 40%
3: Keen / committed / potential for an interview – 5%
4: Overqualified / passion lies in another career – 5%

Based on the above information, you many now see the value in following Construction Pathway’s steps four and five as they have the potential to move you out of group two into group three – keen and committed to a career in construction.

An estimated 70% of jobs are never advertised!
There is one very effective way to put yourself in a position where you have no competition at all. Targeting a potential employer directly, even when they are not advertising is by far the best way to land yourself your dream job.

Contacting them directly, with a personalised C.V. will demonstrate your keenness and commitment to working with their company.

Please see an introduction letter example to the right…

Step 6:  Interview preparation 

So you’ve reached out to a company that you really want to work for and they’ve invited you in for an interview  –  CONGRATULATIONS!!

Now, the below scenario goes far beyond the average construction job interview situation, so please do not worry. Many small companies will just invite you to site for a quick chat or trial. However, if you apply to medium to large size companies and are asked to attend something more formal, then we have you covered…

1:  Research the company
Nothing says ‘I don’t really want this job more’ than when the employer asks you ‘do you know what we do?’ and you answer ‘no’.

2:  Be clear about why you want the job

Be prepared to tell the interviewer why you want that job – If an interviewer doesn’t think you’re really, really interested in the job, he or she won’t give you an offer – no matter how good you are!

A:  I’ve seen your company’s projects on social media and I would love to develop a career while being part of your team.

B:  I want to develop a career with a well-established company such as your, I really want to be a great (roofer) and I believe a company like (Pendragon Roofing) can teach me how.

3:  Anticipate the interviewer’s concerns and reservations
If you have little or no experience – then your response might be “I know you may be thinking that I might not be the best fit for this position because (their reservation). But you should know that (reason the interviewer shouldn’t be overly concerned).”

4:  Prepare for common interview questions

Always take a copy of your C.V. to refer to, you will not be negatively judged for this, in fact, it’ll show how much you value the opportunity to meet with them.

Q: ‘How much do you know about (electrical installation)?

Q: ‘Why do you want a career in (construction)?

Q: ‘Construction is very different from your past role, how do you think you’ll manage on-site?’

5:  Line up your questions for the interviewer
You will almost always be asked if you have any questions, there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘No thank you, I feel we’ve covered everything’, but you could respond with:

A:   ‘Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job’

B:  ‘I just wanted to ask, with regard to people you’ve hired before, where did you feel that they did not excel, so that I could try and avoid making the same mistakes should you hire me?’

C:  ‘Should you take me on as a (labourer), I would be hoping to stay with you for a number of years, are their opportunities within your company to progress?

TOP TIP:  Take a note pad with you, it shows that what you talk about in the meeting is important to you.

6:  Practice, practice, practice

The first time you try it, you’ll sound garbled and confused, no matter how clear your thoughts are in your own mind! Do it another 10 times, and you’ll sound a lot smoother and more articulate.

7:  Score a success in the first five minutes.
Always start off with a positive comment:

A:  ‘I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to speak with you’

B:  ‘I have seen the work you do on social media and I’m really excited by the prospect of being able to contribute’

C:  ‘I really admire the work you do, thank you for meeting with me today


8:  Glow with positivity 
Firstly, know that the employer wants you to win – they want you to be the right person for the job. Try not to dwell on the negatives, if you’re asked ‘What did you like least about that previous job?’, rather than a negative you could reply with:

A: ‘Well, actually I’ve found something about all of my classes that I’ve liked’.

B: ‘Although I found my work at (Splash Pool) to be unfulfilling, it really pushed me to move towards my dream of a career in (construction).

9:  Make the most of the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question.
Many interviewers begin interviews with this question. So how should you respond? Basic facts combined with a tiny personal insight and finish with career goals for the win..

A:  I’m Thomas, age 32, from Helston, huge Chelsea fan, I  enjoy surfing and projects that involves fixing things. I’ve previously worked in customer service roles but my dream career is in (construction).

B:  I’m a dab hand with DIY and anything involving an eye for detail. I’ve worked within the customer service sector for the past two years. Approximately a year ago I realised that I wanted to develop a career in construction. Since then I have gained some health and safety qualifications and carried out a number of days work experience within the industry. And it was through this work experience I realised that I wanted to pursue a career in (roofing).

10: Don’t give up!
If you’ve had a bad interview for a job that you truly think would be a great fit for you, don’t give up! Write a note, send an email, or call. They may be having a tough time choosing between you and another person and you getting in touch shows them that you’re keen and committed.

In the event that they hire someone else, it’s important not to beat yourself up about it. You’ll never know the reason why someone else was picked, but what you do know is that they missed out on all that you could’ve brought to that role.

So pick yourself up, brush yourself down and instead of wasting energy overthinking, use it to position yourself for the next interview.

Follow these steps and it won’t be long until you’re hired, on-site and pursuing the career of your dreams!  

Step 7:  Hitting the ground running…

CONGRATULATIONS!! You got the job and now it’s time to step on to site and into your construction career. The following tips are designed to get you integrated as quickly as possible so that you can begin to contribute your team’s objectives – and remember, don’t stress, everyone started somewhere!