What is general labour? Learn the basics of the job

Learn about the skills and duties that are expected from a general labourer in this guide.

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General labour is a promising career that can be your foot in the door for many opportunities and industries. If you’re wondering what general labour is, this can include everything from working as a handyperson to becoming a licenced welder. What general labourers do can span a ton of technicalities and industries, so it’s really up to what you want to specialise in and what you can become!

In this, guide, we’ll take you through what general labour means, what general labourers usually do, and how you can start a career in this field.

What is the meaning of general labour?

female general labourer

General labour covers a variety of tasks, from shovelling soil to cleaning up, and even working with special machinery like drills and solderers. It’s physical, hands-on work that usually requires or includes on-the-job training.

What a general labourer does will depend heavily on the industry and workplace they’re in. You could become a handyperson who helps maintain a hotel. You could be an irrigation technician at a golf course. You could even get jobs as an electrician or plumber if you’re licenced for those specialities.

How do you become a general labourer in the UK?

male general labourer in a warehouse

General labourers are usually not required to have a certain level of education, and employers in the UK will at most require a high school diploma or GED. When it comes to general labourer skills, these are typically taught through special training courses that your employer will put you through.

Most employers want a general labourer who has the following attributes:

  • Good health
  • Strength and stamina (some job descriptions may require you to be able to lift a certain weight, for example)
  • Communication skills
  • Good work ethic
  • Team player attitude
  • Flexibility

You can start learning a few of the basic handyman skills, then get further training to specialise in a job. Since a labourer's duties can also involve specialised equipment, it’s beneficial to look into the following:

  • Relevant technical skills
  • Trade apprenticeships
  • Safety training
  • Experience with relevant tools or machinery

What are the different types of general labour duties?

general labourer pouring concrete with a cement mixer truck. Road construction or general surface repair

The duties of a general worker can include the following:

  • Working as a handyman, carpenter, or plumber
  • Working with hand tools and power tools like solders and drills
  • Working with building materials
  • Labelling and packing products for shipping
  • Organising goods and inspecting inventory
  • Cleaning and securing buildings
  • Unloading cargo from ships or planes
  • Fertilising plants, picking crops, and feeding animals
  • Inspecting products in a production line
  • Maintaining a well-run workplace (e.g. warehouse, construction site, or factory)
  • Leading a crew of installation or repair technicians
  • Maintaining the grounds of a building (as a landscape artist, pool technician, or gardener)

Other duties that might be expected from you include stacking, sorting, and counting items in a bakery; setting up scaffolding; or cleaning shipping containers.

Of course, the best place to check what duties to expect is the job post you’re applying for!

Are general labourers in demand in the UK?

You’re in luck, because yes, general labourers are high in demand here in the UK, specifically in construction companies. The job outlook is positive for this field as well, making it the perfect time to start growing your career as a general labourer.

How much does a general labourer earn in the UK?

It may depend on the exact field or industry you’re in, as well as your level of experience. But in terms of ballpark figures, a construction labourer usually makes £17,000-32,000 a year, while a warehouse manager makes £23,000-34,000 annually.

How do you become a general labourer in the UK?

general labourers working together in the warehouse

To start, you’ll need to have the basic skills and qualifications mentioned above. You’ll want to familiarise yourself with the types of duties mentioned in the job opening you’re interested in. Also, make sure to brush up on any technical skills you’ll need, and prepare the necessary documents that prove your qualifications.

It’s also worthwhile to mention that general labour can be physically taxing. You can expect long hours of standing, lifting, twisting, and pushing. Keep yourself in good shape, so you can get the most out of each job opportunity!

Start working as a general labourer with Airtasker!

Now that you’re up to speed on working in general labour, it’s time to take the next step!

Finding opportunities for general labourers is hassle-free with Airtasker. Our platform lets potential clients post tasks in minutes; from there, you can bid on jobs that fit your skill set and are within your price range and location. When you sign up as a Tasker, you’ll find that it’s an easy way to earn more as a general labourer!

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