GUEST ARTICLE: Time for a Career Change – Retraining in Construction When You’re Over 25

  • 21 May 2021

With so much uncertainty over jobs at the moment, you may be thinking about retraining into a profession that is always going to be needed.

Construction projects have been ongoing throughout the pandemic, and tradespeople such as plumbers, gas engineers, and electricians are very much in demand, so job safety is at a premium in these areas. Plus, once you have the skills, you have them for life; nobody can take away your knowledge, making it an excellent long-term career choice.

Construction covers a multitude of different roles from builders, electricians, and plumbers, to planners, health and safety executives, and site managers. The building process is a complicated one and needs many people involved at each stage of the project, all with an assortment of skills.


Why should I retrain?

Maybe you are feeling a sense of disillusionment in your current role, or coming to the end of your career and want a different pace, perhaps a complete change after working in an office for 30 years. The trade professions are a particularly popular choice for over-50s.

A guaranteed income and the opportunity to stay active, work with your hands, and do something with flexible hours are particular draws at this stage of life. It’s never too late to add to your repertoire of skills, and retraining is the perfect opportunity to do something you may have always wanted to try.

As of January 2021, there were approximately 28,000 jobs available in construction in the UK, making it an ever-growing industry, and a recent social media campaign encouraging people to apply for the vacancies proves how in-demand it really is.

How do I retrain?

There are many different ways of retraining nowadays, with online courses, practical institution-based classes, and on-the-job learning or apprenticeships all offered in the field of construction and leading to a variety of qualifications, including degrees, NVQs and vocational diplomas, to set you on your way. 

An apprenticeship may take up to five years, but it is a fantastic way of getting experience in a myriad of jobs and tasks, especially if you are done with classroom learning.

While apprenticeships are traditionally seen as opportunities for school-leavers, many are open to job-seekers of all ages. Older applicants are often looked on favourably as they bring a maturity to the learning process as they are often more sure about their chosen profession. 

You could also train part-time alongside doing another job so that you are fully equipped to change career when you are ready. This also gives you the chance to discover if it is something you actually do want to do before fully committing.

Popular options for older applicants

You may think that you’re too old to get into construction if your body isn’t as strong as it used to be, but there are plenty of routes that don’t require such high levels of strength or fitness.

Whether you are starting off in your chosen career and looking for a long-term future, or just want to turn your hand to something else, getting into plumbing as an adult is easier than in many other lines of work. The two main entry routes are to become a plumber’s mate or complete a fast-track plumbing course

Plumbers also often upskill as gas engineers as their career progresses, giving them an extra talent to add to their portfolio and increasing the demand for their services.

It can be a challenge, but if you already have some construction skills, then it is a logical next step and one which can have many benefits. This form of continued professional development is prevalent in a modern construction workforce. 

Plumbing and gas engineering is a great choice for older applicants as it’s a lucrative field and you can be your own boss; working when it suits you so you can fit your work around your family commitments.

What opportunities are there?

In an era where job-hunting is getting harder and more competitive, retraining in an actively advertising area for new recruits is a sensible option for laying the foundations for your future or ensuring a healthy pension pot.

There are a number of online recruitment channels and job boards available for those looking to get into a trade. These platforms host potential employers in various types of construction jobs looking for the ideal candidate to join their organisation so, be sure to do your research. 

Final thoughts

There are several transferable skills involved in the field of construction, so already having some kind of working life behind you can be of great benefit. 

Excellent communication skills are vital when working on construction projects. Plus, a good level of independence and practical know-how, confidence, and ambition are more likely to have been achieved after the age of 25. These kinds of life skills cannot be taught, but are developed over time. 

If you are keen on DIY or have always liked to get stuck in and get your hands dirty, construction could well be for you. There is a range of training opportunities and construction careers available and you may be surprised by the array of what is offered.

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