An Overseas Worker’s Guide to Becoming a Construction Labourer in the UK


In June 2018, government statistics showed that foreign nationals accounted for over 10% of the UK. construction industry workforce. London, England, was found to be particularly dependent on migrant labour; 3 % of their construction labourers were foreign nationals as of 2014 to 2016.

Overseas workers are essential to maintain the age profile of the UK’s construction industry. The nation’s citizens in the construction workforce are ageing; in a span of 20 years, the workers aged 45 and above increased by 13%. However, overseas workers are younger. 47% of them are younger than 45, and only 18% are older.

Today is a good time to fly to the UK to work as a construction labourer. Though the industry wasn’t spared from the effects of COVID-19, it is expected to rebound dramatically. This year, it may grow by 8% and record an average growth of 2.5% between 2022 and 2025. In addition, the construction industry recently reported its biggest surge in workload since 2016.

So without further ado, here’s what you need to know about being an overseas construction labourer in the UK.:

How to Get the Job

Assuming you’ve already secured a working visa, you can get into construction by applying directly. Applying directly doesn’t have set requirements, only sufficient experience. But if you’re young and need experience, you have to undergo an apprenticeship first. As an apprentice, you’d be working as a groundworker or piling attendant.

The skills and knowledge required in construction are:

  • Extensive know-how in building and construction
  • Attention to detail
  • Knowing how to use, repair, maintain machinery and tool
  • Working well with your hands
  • Working well with others
  • Can accept criticism and can work well under pressure
  • Maths
  • Physical fitness and endurance
  • Basic computer and mobile device tasks

If you want to work with excavators or any construction vehicle, you need to be at least 18 years old with a driving licence.

Moreover, you should obtain a Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) blue card to be able to start working on a construction site.

Salaries and Wages

According to the U.K. National Careers Service, an apprentice groundworker’s weekly wage in Manchester, England, is £165.30 to £311.98. In Bury St. Edmunds, the annual salary for the same position is £16,000.

A construction labourer, who’s either a construction operative or a groundworker, is paid £17,000 to £30,000 every year, on average. The more experience you are, the higher your paycheck will be.

In a week, construction labourers typically render 42 to 44 hours. They can also work on weekends and on the evenings.

Where You’d Work


The recent surge in workload was caused by the big increase in private residential construction, followed by infrastructure. There have also been increases in social housing, public sector works, and industrial and commercial projects.

If you specialize in building homes, expect to work on the construction of bigger houses, since the demand for them rose due to work-from-home requirements. You may just experience some challenges related to social distancing, but industry experts said this won’t be a big problem.

Trends in U.K. Construction

To be better at your job, you need to know the construction trends in the UK. One year into the pandemic, Chris Stanley of Modern Masonry said that sustainable building and passive techniques will have a major influence on the industry. Contractors and labourers must use the “fabric first” approach, which is a process that allows homes to have lower U-values (thermal transmittance) and improved airtightness. Stanley added that the fabric first approach combined with smart HVAC will ensure that properties will remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter without substantial environmental impacts.

After the lockdowns, Stanley said that terms like “sustainability” and “value” will have deeper meanings. As such, words like “longevity”, “locally-sourced”, and “circular” will become more common in design after COVID-19.

As for the type of buildings that rose and fell in demand, commercial properties had a construction slowdown, because people began leaving city centres to work from home. But the on the brighter side, the healthcare industry faced a new demand for enhanced facilities, so additional infrastructure in their industry is needed. Director of Perega, Rachel Davis, said that this trend will surely rise through 2022.

Working Environment in Construction Sites

Since the pandemic required social distancing and increased health-consciousness, construction sites may change. From now on, risks of viral transmission will be limited, and spaces will strive to be more environmentally friendly. In addition, air quality will be improved through passive ventilation, the fabric first approach, circular design, and smart systems. As a result, construction labourers can maintain their health better, as well as increase their comfort and productivity.

Considering those shifts in the industry, it’s pretty evident that construction labourers in the UK. are well treated and respected. Hence, if you think UK can offer you a better working condition and great opportunities to boost your skills, look into available job postings now and see if you can give them a shot.

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