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Built environment is a relatively new way of describing the design, creation and maintenance of man-made structures. Construction, Property and Land Surveying are included in this sector, but there is also an overlap with Engineering. Among the less well-known areas covered by the sector are Building Services and Historic Building Conservation.

The UK construction and built environment industry has an international reputation for world-class design, inspirational architecture and the highest quality building.

  • The Built Environment sector is Britain’s largest and employs 2.35 million workers (ConstructionSkills, 2009).
  • The 2012 Olympic Games in London required 20,000 construction workers to build Olympic Park, villages and Stratford City developments (London Development Agency, 2008). 
  • Britain has over 6 million historic buildings, with the UK spending approximately £5 billion a year on conservation and restoration within the historic built environment (Tomorrow's Engineers, 2011).
  • It is estimated that £24 billion of construction work is being undertaken in London, with an additional £95 billion planned to start before 2016 (London Development Agency, 2008). 
  • There are 800,000 people employed in the cleaning industry in the UK which contributes over £5 billion pounds to the UK economy (Asset Skills, 2008).
  • One time brickie’s apprentice Trevor Hemmings increased his wealth to £1.03 billion in 2008 – moving him up to fourth place in that year’s City & Guilds Vocational Rich List.
  • The environmental and land-based businesses (such as landscape gardening) sector is worth in excess of £8.9 billion per annum and comprises 1 million employees and 500,000 volunteers (LANTRA, 2008).

Careers in the built environment sector

There are a range of different jobs available in this sector, from architect to bricklayer, plumber to town planner, and landscape gardener to stonemason. Welsh Government recognises the importance of the sector and is committed to supporting Wales' low carbon economy while driving forward skills in the built environment.

Heritage craft courses are offered through colleges and other providers, aimed at reducing the skills shortages in the following areas:

  • bricklaying and craft masonry
  • carpentry and joinery
  • lead working
  • painting and decorating
  • plastering
  • roof slating and tiling
  • steeplejacking
  • stonemasonry
Traditional craft training is also provided by organisations such as the Prince’s Foundation for Building Communities and the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme.

Working in this sector can lead to being a part of a team of professionals creating something lasting and helping to shape the environment for future generations.

For further information on careers in the built environment sector, and to search for current apprenticeship or Jobs Growth Wales opportunities, visit Careers Wales.

"The UK construction and built environment industry has an international reputation for world-class design, inspirational architecture and the highest quality building."
- Tomorrow's Engineers, 2011

Competing in the sector

Competitors face a series of practical challenges that test their skills at regional heats throughout Wales. The highest scorers are put forward to compete in the Welsh national final, with successful competitors going through to the UK national competition held at the NEC in Birmingham.

Among 2012's winners were Ross Richardson Davies of Coleg Sir Gâr, who won the individual gold medal for plastering, with Team Wales also taking gold in the SkillBuild Team Challenge.

Competing in the built environment sector competitions benefits students, learning providers and employers. Students are given a common, worthwhile goal that takes them beyond the normal expectation of education and training programmes, as well as being able to experience the excitement of competing. For the trainer or tutor there’s professional pride and evidence of continuing professional development, and employers benefit through maintaining a highly skilled workforce who take pride in the job and the company.

"This is a task-oriented competition where the participants have to follow a precise brief and that is what it is all about out there in the real world – delivering quality work in time and providing value for money. These days we cannot afford to do things twice. This sort of training is invaluable and important in bench-marking the sort of standards expected in industry."
- Andrew Phillips, Carreg Construction

SkillElectric and SkillPlumb Wales Finals
Deeside College, 2013

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Skills competitions test who has the ability to be a champion. And for those who’ve got what it takes, career stardom awaits..