According to latest research by the Federation of Master Builders, construction apprentices will go on to earn thousands of pounds more, every year, than many of their university-educated counterparts. Site managers, plant operatives and commercial staff represent some of the most lucrative construction trades, often earning more than £40,000 a year – significantly higher than the average annual graduate salary of £32,000.

Now the highways contracting division of leading building materials supplier Aggregate Industries, which runs an extensive programme of apprenticeships across the UK, is hoping the figures will attract more people into the road construction sector.

Like the wider construction industry, contracting continues to face an escalating skills shortage. With Brexit and an ageing population only set to make matters worse, a recent study by Highways UK estimates that an additional 12,000 workers are required across the Strategic Road Network within the next four years3 in order to deliver the government’s ambitious infrastructure targets.

Paddy Murphy, Managing Director of Contracting Services at Aggregate Industries, comments: “With students in England graduating with average debts of around £50,0004 while earning just over £32,000 a year, it seems that in many cases trades are beating grades when it comes to earning potential. As such, it has never been a more lucrative time for young people to learn a trade and look at an apprenticeship as a viable alternative to university.

“Amid the government’s recent pledge to invest more than £5bn in improving motorways, major A-roads, and local roads across the country5, essential to delivering this is ensuring we have a highly-skilled and trained workforce – presenting apprentices with a myriad of employment opportunities in the construction sector.

“Following the increasing adoption of the latest innovative technology and techniques, a career in road construction is not the same as it was 20 years ago. From helping to transform the M1 into a Smart Motorway to re-aligning carriageways to alleviate congestion, today’s roles are not only fast-paced and challenging but also offer high quality on-the-job training on some of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects.”