Overview of the property and construction industry

Dominic Claeys-Jackson, Editor
January, 2017

Offering a variety of opportunities, the sector employs around three million people, generating more than £120billion each year for the UK economy

What areas can I work in?

Opportunities in the property and construction sector can be grouped into:

  • architecture
  • building control
  • building services engineering
  • building surveying
  • civil engineering
  • construction management
  • estate agencies
  • estate management
  • facilities management
  • historic buildings conservation
  • housing management
  • land surveying
  • property development
  • property management
  • quantity surveying
  • structural engineering
  • town and country planning
  • valuation.

There are also graduate opportunities in business, consulting and management functions such as sales, marketing, finance and human resources (HR).

For examples of job roles in this sector, see graduate jobs in property and construction.

Who are the main graduate employers?

Some of the largest companies in the property and construction sector are:

  • Amey
  • Arcadis
  • Arup
  • Atkins
  • Balfour Beatty
  • BAM Construct UK
  • Barratt Developments
  • Bilfinger GVA
  • Carillion
  • Carter Jonas
  • CBRE
  • Colliers International
  • Costain
  • Countrywide Group
  • Cushman & Wakefield
  • Grosvenor Group
  • JLL
  • Kier Group
  • Knight Frank
  • Laing O'Rourke
  • Lendlease
  • Mott MacDonald
  • Redrow
  • Savills
  • Skanska
  • VINCI Construction UK
  • Willmott Dixon.

Many of these employers are increasing their graduate intakes, while large property owners - such as companies in the retail, hospitality and events management, and leisure, sport and tourism sectors - are particularly focused on recruiting graduates in facilities management roles.

In addition to the major recruiters above, jobs can be found in architectural practices, construction consultancies and housing organisations.

There are also opportunities with local authorities, infrastructure providers and organisations that own historic properties, such as English Heritage or the National Trust.

What's it like working in the sector?

You can expect:

  • a fast-paced working environment
  • a starting salary of £20,000 to £29,000
  • high job satisfaction
  • self-employment to be possible with experience and chartered status
  • the opportunity to work abroad
  • to spend significant time on site.

To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions, see job profiles.

What are the key issues in property and construction?

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), workers in construction saw their wages increase by more than 6% in 2015 - compared with 2% across the rest of the workforce. This was partly due to a skills shortage, with professionals such as quantity surveyors among those in particularly high demand.

Facilities management is another fast-growing profession. There are opportunities for jobs in-house with large companies or with specialist contractors, while there's also been an increase in related qualifications, such as Masters degrees in applied facilities management and MBAs in facilities management.

Such skills shortages have been further highlighted by the government's plan to boost infrastructure spending by £12billion by 2020, meaning that graduates could do worse than consider a career, postgraduate study or professional course in this sector.

The industry is also working to increase the female workforce by boosting the number of work placements and professional courses aimed towards them. Only 11% of employees in the property and construction sector are female, with only 2% of all manual roles filled by women.