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Are you being paid fairly?

How to build a good career in construction

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

Are you being paid fairly?

How to build a good career in construction

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

3 min read

In the United Kingdom construction salaries advertised by employers have soared 6.7% in the space of just five months, according to new data by jobs site, Indeed. Here, employer demand for workers is outstripping the number of candidates, which is why salaries are being pushed up.

But what kind of salaries can those working in the South African construction industry expect? Is there a similar kind of demand in this sector and what kind of future career prospects can one expect?

Base salaries

Base salaries and hourly rates vary, depending on where you source your information. According to Indeed, the average base salary workers can expect to earn is around R7,604 a month*.

Payscale says the average construction worker hourly pay in South Africa equates to around R22.43 per hour. With South Africans working around 45 hours per week their data puts the average salary in construction down to between R4,037.40 and R5,046.75 depending on whether a month has four or five weeks in it.

Manager salaries

Junior and senior managers can expect more pay than workers. According to careers website Jobted, junior construction managers with less than three years’ experience can expect to earn an average salary of R190,000 gross a year.

Mid-career construction managers (with four to nine years’ experience) can expect gross salaries of around R500,000 while senior construction managers with between 10- and 20-years’ experience can expect an average of R670,000.

On average, says Jobted, construction managers can expect around R579,433 per year or R48,290 per month, which they say is 105% higher than South African’s national average salary. It adds that the highest salaries can exceed R906,000.

Jobs scarcity

Decent pay can be obtained in the construction industry, particularly if you have worked your way up the ranks and secure a job with a reputable company. However, it’s important to think carefully about entering this sector as a worker as careers aren’t always guaranteed.

If you’re keen on getting a job in the construction industry, it’s worthwhile conducting some research first before diving in head-first and spending your savings on training or spending all your time on internships. Jobs in this sector are hard to find and thousands of jobs are being cut every year.

Government employees, followed by those working in manufacturing and construction were the ones most affected by job losses according to the latest Stats SA Quarterly Employment Statistics report, which showed that 7,000 jobs have been lost in construction alone in the last quarter up to June 2021.

Economist Duma Gqubule told Sowetan Live this week that the manufacturing and construction industry had seen a steady decline in jobs for years. He said: “The sector that has lost most jobs since 1998 is manufacturing…construction is very critical, and it depends on government infrastructure spending.”

Future of construction

South Africa’s construction industry history is marred by labour unrest and major delays in some of the country’s major construction projects (such as the Medupi power station) and these problems are present even today.

Some hope for the sector, however, does lie in the success of the government’s National Development Plan (NDP) and its continued commitment to public infrastructure investment.

The government has pledged to create 11 million job opportunities by 2030 according to the NDP. But there is still much work to be done to ensure that such opportunities materialise.

Opportunities elsewhere

If you have the training and the money to move abroad, your skills could be in demand elsewhere. As mentioned earlier, UK construction salaries are soaring and some say that construction will need 217,000 new workers to meet demand by 2025.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in South Africa, countries that are crying out for construction workers could be the solution to more stable career prospects.

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