The Federation of Master Builders

Welsh construction apprentices will earn more than uni students

Published date: 05 March 2018

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

Small building firms across Wales were asked about the annual salaries of their tradespeople. Here, on average, are the results:

  1. Site managers earn £56,256;
  2. Supervisors earn £52,983;
  3. Plumbers earn £49,938;
  4. Electricians earn £48,562;
  5. Steel fixers earn £47,311;
  6. Scaffolders earn £47,190;
  7. Floorers earn £42,705;
  8. Roofers earn £42,597;
  9. Bricklayers earn £41,877;
  10. Carpenters/joiners earn £40,144;
  11. Plant operatives earn £40,082;
  12. Plasterers earn £39,385;
  13. Civil engineering operatives earn £37,582;
  14. Painters and decorators earn £35,377;
  15. General construction operatives earn £31,533;
  16. Labourer earn £26,815.

The above are averages but some tradespeople in Wales are earning even higher wages. For example, some electricians in Carmarthen are commanding wages equivalent to £58,600 a year. However, university graduates in Wales will earn the following average annual salary:

  • Teachers earn £38,125;
  • Pharmacists earn £38,101;
  • Chartered and certified accountants earn £34,157;
  • Nurses earn £32,511;
  • Architects earn £30,000.

Ifan Glyn, Director of FMB Cymru, said: “A career in construction can offer a higher salary than many university graduate roles. The FMB’s latest research shows that your average bricky or roofer in Wales is earning £42,000. Comparatively, many university graduates such as teachers and chartered accountants are earning significantly less, with average annual salaries of £38,000 and £34,000 respectively. In Swansea, there are scaffolders commanding wages of up to £132,000 a year. When you consider that university students are typically charged up to £9,000 a year to study, undertaking an apprenticeship in construction is arguably the smarter move. Indeed, across the UK, construction apprentices earn while they learn, taking home an average of £17,000 a year. It’s an outdated view that vocational training is inferior to academic education. We’re therefore calling on young people, their parents and their teachers to start giving highly rewarding construction careers some serious thought.”

Glyn concluded: “The construction industry is facing a chronic skills crisis. Recent research from the FMB shows that more than two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers and nearly just as many are having problems hiring carpenters. It’s therefore of utmost importance that more young people join the sector. The Welsh Government will struggle to meet its housing targets without a sufficient number of skilled tradespeople. The only way we can guarantee enough skilled workers in construction in the future is by training more young people to a high standard and by constantly improving the quality and quantity of apprenticeships.”

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