Standards of workmanship in the UK Construction Industry

Standards of Workmanship in the UK Construction Industry have taken a sharp decline in recent years. Now this is a sweeping statement and of course, does not include every trades person. This article is a general view on the UK Construction Industry. If you have read my posts, you will realise I am the greatest admirer of skilled men/women in the industry. Over the years I am have been blown away by the levels of workmanship on some of the varying projects I have worked on.

Now, this article is of course, not aimed at those dedicated professionals that have earned the right to call themselves a Tradesman/woman, this is aimed at the “chancers” that are infesting the industry I love. One of the issues is that training organisations are  throwing out NVQ`s like sweets. How can someone even contemplate calling themselves skilled after training for 1 day a week over 2 years, without any relevant work experience. It is shocking how we have got to this point!

The Good Old Days

Now we all hear people saying that “standards were much higher when I was young” This in general, is very true. If I produced some of the standards of work i see on a daily basis at work, when I was young, there would have only been one consequence. As I was being ejected from the site, I would have heard things like…

  • “Find another job”
  • “Do you realise people are paying good money for this building”
  • “You should be ashamed”

Now when I think back 30 years to my apprenticeship, I can think of the two things that made me become a good tradesman. The ability to listen and respect for my elders. This may sound like some old bloke reminiscing about the good old days, but your wrong. I do look back with great fondness and admiration for those people who trained me. They were highly skilled and very respectful of their chosen skill.

Today I see so called skilled people more interested in their phones and constantly moaning about how intrusive the companies Health & Safety policy is.

“Concentrate on what you are being paid to do and stop winging”


construction standards

Standards of workmanship

Health & Safety

Now this subject deserves a mention as it is the most important thing you will ever consider when you are at work. You may think that there is a culture that has gone crazy with all the conditions we now have to work under. In my time in construction, Health & Safety has vastly improved. Today we have a voice and cannot be forced to do anything that will prevent us going home to our families in one piece.

Construction companies have a genuine duty of care towards our Health & Wellbeing and in most cases, they spend huge sums of money ensuring this is adhered to. Company directors can no longer hide behind their desks, they will be sharing the same prison cell as the one who sets the person to work.


In my opinion, the term “Progress” is the one thing that is to blame for the lowering in standards of workmanship in the UK construction industry , its all about getting the product finished and handed over. Never mind giving the workforce the time to achieve the standards that the very company is demanding. These contractors are under such pressure to get the work finished, often due to the company changing the programme on an often, daily basis. Having said that, construction companies have a duty to the end user to ensure that the people create the end product are skilled and competent.

I am perfectly aware of the commercial pressures that companies put on their construction teams, but it is time for a reality check. The quality that is being produced on huge numbers of construction sites in the UK is just not good enough. There are countless websites that will clearly demonstrate, the often shocking standards that consumers have to put up with and their battles to get the issues resolved.

The future of the Uk Construction Industry

There are many reports in the media about the huge skills shortage most companies are experiencing across all sectors of the construction industry. There are many reasons for this..

  • Lack of investment by companies in apprenticeship schemes
  • Lack of funding in FE colleges
  • Lack of knowledge of the industry
  • Lack of vision towards the young people of today
  • Lack of opportunity for young people to gain valuable on-site experience

This list is endless, but the simple truth is that, unless we start to engage with young people today and help them realise that a career in construction can be rewarding and well paid. Construction seems to be seen as a last resort by schools when encouraging young people in their future choices.

We need to give these young people the opportunity to experience the vast array of options in the UK Construction Industry. They need to realise how rewarding it can be, the challenges are endless and quite often very rewarding.

I love the construction process and the fact that every day can be different. There are now opportunities to integrate new technologies in the every-day work of many levels of the construction process.

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”

Please feel free to comment on this subject, debating this subject is the only way to get things changed. The future of the construction industry now seems to be in the hands of people who know nothing about the issues that actually affect people who actually do the building. The industry used to be run by people who had many years experience, sadly it is now run by politicians (enough said me thinks)