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What are trades and crafts in the construction industry?

Skilled specialist occupations that require vocational training are learnt through experience and on-the-job training
Woman heating engineer kneeling next to radiator

What do you think of when you hear the word construction? A bricklayer perhaps, or an electrician — maybe even a plumber. All of these occupations are known as trades and crafts and the people who do them are known as tradespeople or craftspeople.

Skilled occupations

Trades and crafts are skilled specialist occupations that require vocational training. This means that they are learnt through experience and on-the-job training. Traditionally, trades and crafts would have been learnt only through apprenticeships. Nowadays they are still taught through apprenticeships, but there are also a range of other vocational routes in.

There are many different trades and crafts in the construction industry and some even have their own sub-specialties too. However, skills and trades also have a number of other features in common. Let’s look at the common characteristics of all construction crafts and trades.

Physical activity

Much like the entry-level jobs, trades and crafts are all hands-on and require physical activity. Because of this they are also by nature very practical, involving activities like rewiring a house, fitting a new boiler, building a wall, maintaining an air duct system or laying flooring. This means that those who work as craft and trades people will often work in lots of different locations, including outdoors.

Working as a craft and tradesperson will also inevitably mean working with lots of different people. This could be on a large or small construction site, in a person’s home or in offices or public buildings. Sometimes you might find yourself working for a contractor (another person in the construction industry) and other times you may be working directly for a consumer or member of the public.

Having good people skills and the ability to work with others is therefore essential. And, you guessed it, all trades and crafts people must be willing to keep up with and maintain good health and safety practice.

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