FMB reveals evidence of rewards of choosing a career in construction

Leon Hay from Cumbernauld was the first of the stonemason apprentices specially recruited as part of the Mackintosh Library restoration

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) Scotland.

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

  • Electricians earn £57,194;
  • Site managers earn £56,576;
  • Plumbers earn £53,609;
  • Supervisors earn £51,456;

  • Civil engineering operatives earn £49,656;
  • Steel fixers earn £49,185;
  • Bricklayers earn £46,956;
  • Roofers earn £46,956;

  • Carpenters and joiners earn £46,089;
  • Scaffolders earn £41,942;
  • Plasterers earn £41,756;
  • Plant operatives earn £41,594;

  • Floorers earn £39,156;
  • Painters and decorators earn £36,898;
  • General construction operatives earn £35,715;
  • Labourers earn £28,184.

  • The highest reported annual salary was for civil engineering operatives in Aberdeenshire, some of which are commanding wages of £98,000 a year. However, some of Scotland’s university graduates earn the following average annual salaries:

    • Pharmacists earn £42,207;
    • Midwives earn £37,790;
    • Veterinarians earn £36,203;
    • Chartered and certified accountants earn £35,915;
    • Teachers earn £35,772;
    • Physiotherapists earn £30,710;
    • Nurses earn £30,173.
    • Gordon Nelson, director of FMB Scotland, said: “Construction workers in Scotland are earning higher wages than many university graduates. The average bricky or roofer in Scotland earns £47,000 a year and in Aberdeenshire, some civil engineering operatives are commanding wages of £98,000 a year. Comparatively, Scottish vets, chartered and certified accountants and teachers, all of whom have studied at university, earn around £36,000 a year on average. Given that apprentices also earn while they learn, with the average construction apprentice taking home around £17,000 a year, starting a career in construction is becoming an increasingly shrewd move for young Scots.”

      Mr Nelson added: “A career in construction can be seriously rewarding. We’re asking young Scots, their families and teachers, to look more favourably on a career in construction and give apprenticeships serious consideration. What’s more, because the construction industry is in the midst of a skills shortage, we’re in dire need of more young people to join our sector. The FMB’s 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. These are the highest figures since records began a decade ago. The FMB is therefore committed to collaborating with the wider construction industry and the Scottish Government to make sure we’re attracting more new talent into our industry.”

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