NI construction apprentices will earn more than university students

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) NI recently asked small building firms across NI what they pay their tradespeople. The average annual salaries were as follows:

  • Supervisors earn £48,456
  • Site managers earn £47,856
  • Steel fixers earn £43,056
  • Electricians earn £42,499
  • Plumbers earn £41,942
  • Roofers earn £40,270
  • Civil engineering operatives earn £39,806
  • Plasterers earn £39,713
  • Plant operatives earn £39,456
  • Scaffolders earn £38,599
  • Bricklayers earn £38,042
  • Floorers earn £37,656
  • Carpenters and joiners earn £37,485
  • Painters and decorators earn £32,470
  • General construction operatives earn £32,069
  • Labourers earn £28,080

The above are averages but some tradespeople in Northern Ireland are earning even higher wages. For example, some electricians in Belfast are commanding wages equivalent to £58,600 a year. However, UK-wide, university graduates earn the following average annual salaries:

  • Pharmacists earn £42,252
  • Dental practitioners earn £40,268
  • Architects earn £38,228
  • Teachers earn £37,805
  • Chartered and certified accountants earn £37,748
  • Midwives earn £36,188
  • Veterinarians earn £36,446
  • Physiotherapists earn £32,065
  • Nurses earn £31,867

Commenting on the results, Gavin McGuire, Director of FMB Northern Ireland, said, “Construction apprentices will go on to earn much more than many university graduates. We’re calling on all parents, teachers and young people to seriously contemplate a career in construction instead of going to university. Our latest research shows that your average electrician in NI is earning £42,000 a year and roofers are close behind, earning £40,000 a year. Indeed, in Belfast, some electricians are commanding wages of more than to £58,000 a year. Many university graduates don’t earn as much – for example, the UK-average salary for an architect is just £38,000. University students in Northern Ireland are typically charged over £4,000 a year to study here and over £9,000 a year to study in England and Wales. On the other hand, apprentices earn while they learn, taking home around £17,000 a year. Pursuing a career in construction is therefore becoming an increasingly savvy move.”

McGuire concluded, “The construction industry is in the midst of a severe skills crisis and the only way we can guarantee enough skilled workers in construction in the future is by persuading the next generation to join us. Indeed, job opportunities are ample given that the FMB’s latest research shows that more than two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers and 63% are having problems hiring carpenters. These are the highest figures since records began in 2008. The FMB is committed to working with the wider industry and the government to encourage more new entrants into the sector. It is the only way we will build a sustainable skills base.”

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