class system in the UK construction industry



A Class system on UK Construction sites has arrived and that is a fact! There is evidence now that there is a huge increase in management positions on construction sites and a decline inexperienced tradesmen. There could be many reasons for this, but I think we have to look at the position in schools now, where people are encouraged to gain a degree level qualification in construction and go into management and forget about vocational skills like Bricklaying, Carpentry and Plumbing.

There are over 1 million skilled tradesmen in the Uk construction industry and a huge proportion of these are within 5 years of retirement. Now statistics are always open to interpretation, but even if these statistics are even remotely close; the construction industry in the UK is in huge trouble.

There is so much emphasis on training management that tradesmen have been forgotten, where is all the training to encourage people to climb the ladder of success on construction sites. It’s getting to a point, that if you do not have a degree, you are not going anywhere on the ladder. All people need to see there is a future and this has now gone.

We have had a huge investment in apprenticeship schemes in recent years, but who is going to give these apprentices the experience they need on sites?

This article may seem a little flippant to people, but the more times goes on, the more it becomes true. A lot of work has to be done to try and keep the few experienced tradesmen we have left in the industry. We could have a million new apprentices tomorrow, who will train them?

One of the things noticed on construction sites is the management system that used to exist. The understanding of how this system worked was quite simple, the more experience you had – the higher up the ladder you were. How this has changed over the years is the reason why standards and attitudes amongst construction workers have taken a stark drop in today’s society.

All construction sites are of course not the same there is, of course, a need for experienced site management and trainees in this area, my point is, where have all the management jobs appeared from when the industry has been in decline over the last few years. We should be promoting the training of experienced tradesmen, but this will never happen as the cost of achieving the correct certification that is required, is astronomical and out of the reach of most people.


The problem comes right at the top of the tree, whereas in past years the site manager was often somebody who has actually worked-hands on in some capacity on a construction project and very well understands the correct way to manage these projects, in today’s world these same people have no experience or knowledge of what they are asking people to do. A class system on UK construction sites has arrived and that is a fact! There is evidence now that there is a huge increase in management positions on construction sites and a decline inexperienced tradesmen.

Class System on UK Construction Sites

Working class

These are the tradesmen that actually do the hard work and deserve most of the credit. Having worked with many of these people over the years and for the most part have found them to be a class of very hard working and decent people who just come to work to earn a living. Today they are thought of as second class citizens and is best summed up by the following quote…..

“Be thankful for the little you’ve got, and a little is all you’re gonna get.”
— Quentin R. Bufogle

Middle class

These are the people that reside in the “office villages” on construction sites, they often have very little experience and the cause of much confusion amongst the above class as to “how the hell did they ever get that job”. This is best summed up by the following quote…..

“Wearing overalls on weekdays, painting somebody else’s house to earn money? You’re working class. Wearing overalls at weekends, painting your own house to save money? You’re middle class”.
Lawrence Sutton

Upper Class

Now these are the mystery people that turn up on construction sites in their 4×4`s and designer helmets and nobody will tell you who they are, but even the site manager will give up his throne for this person-

Are they the owner of the company?

Are they the owner’s son?

Are they the owner’s bank manager?

Who knows, but one thing is for sure, he will never say “hello” to the working class, why, who know`s or understands how they ever became successful and maybe explained by the following quote….

“People of the upper class know everything without ever having learned anything”
— Unknown

I have worked on construction sites where the management have been excellent and I do understand there is a process that has to be followed and that requires; highly intelligent skilled workers to achieve this. Somebody in this industry has to grab the bull by the horns do something to address the situation before it is too late and we have no tradesmen left. do we need a class system on UK Construction sites?

Will things change in today`s blame culture!