The Technical Knowledge of the Construction Tradesmen

Written by LetsBuild

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Now we Construction Professionals are very knowledgeable and we have Degrees, even Masters, to prove it. But what about the Construction Tradesmen?

Well, it is pretty well known in today’s world, Britain in particular, that they are uneducable drop-outs who left school aged 16! Somehow they managed to get an apprenticeship in a construction trade, often not because of their own merits, but through family influence being exerted on their behalf. Whatever, they have joined the contemptible “dirty finger-nail brigade”!

They then have to serve a minimum 3 years as apprentices before they become a qualified Tradesman. Obviously, during that time they will have managed to acquire some manual dexterity that allows them to do whatever they do to the satisfaction of we discerning Professionals.

But we can have a laugh at them! They didn’t want to go to school and actually learn anything, but they get lumbered! If they want to become qualified tradesmen, they have to take educational Courses directly targeted at their trade!

Most of these are to NVQ Level 3 – A-Level equivalents!

Now hang on a moment; that argues they might not be quite as thick as the public perception holds them to be!

Could it be that they “dropped out” of Sixth Form because their interests actually lay in other directions? These guys are a special breed of warrior class remember!

Once qualified in their trade they then get stuck on various other courses. These might be run by manufacturers to explain the latest technology of their latest products or professional bodies to explain changes in the Law relating to their trade. Learning continues! Alongside that they are working and, I suppose, might benefit as we Professionals do, learn by experience. It might be remotely possible, you know!

So suddenly let’s get back to us Construction Professionals and our highly-certificated construction knowledge.

I can’t remember a single course I took which taught me anything at all about any particular trade! Can anyone else?

I couldn’t pass an A-Level in any of them! Suddenly not having an NVQ 3 makes us look like the der-brains!

Begins to look as if we need to develop a bit of intellectual humility and recognize the fact that Tradesmen are the technical experts in their field.

That is only the starting point for us, though. We have to develop the soft skills to be able to pick the tradesmen’s brain’s when we need technical input. These guys are so used to being looked down upon that they won’t usually offer information to snooty Managers.

We have to learn to treat them with the respect they deserve before they’ll help us overcome problems.

Once we get to that point we can really upset the apple cart! It is hilarious when there is a big site meeting with Site Management, Architects, PQS’s, Structural engineers, QS’s, etc., all stumped because the project has hit a technical problem that we Professionals can’t resolve.

Read more: Construction culture

What you do is stick your head out of the door and yell for the relevant Ganger Man, who, by this time is a mate of yours, to come in.

Explain the problem to him and ask him what to do about it. He’ll “grunt” an immediate solution and slouch out the way he slouched in. The red faces amongst the professionals are a real pleasure to watch!

Never underestimate the technical knowledge of the Trades!