When I left school at 16, I took the apprenticeship route into employment. My school didn’t really suggest anything else. The construction industry was the world of family members and friends, so it was a natural choice for me, and I enjoyed becoming a skilled bricklayer over the next couple of years.
My apprenticeship was a good introduction to the industry, but I could see that future prospects in bricklaying might be limited – I’m ambitious and I wanted more. I wanted to do something mentally challenging and to push myself forward in a structured career.
I explored a variety of different roles, but building surveying really stood out.
The careers service helped me figure out that I might be suited to the professional roles in the construction industry. So I thought about the people I met on site, and started to find out about what their jobs involved and what they liked most about their work. I explored a variety of different roles, but building surveying really stood out for me.
I considered the full-time university route, but I didn’t have A levels and some universities were less than encouraging. So I started looking at industry to find out about alternative routes. I was invited to Faithful+Gould’s Nottingham office and given a chance to find out more and put my case for being taken on.
It didn’t happen overnight - it was a nearly a year before I got my job offer from Faithful+Gould, but in that time I’d been encouraged to stay in touch. Looking back, I’m impressed that senior people gave me their time, even though they weren’t hiring at that point. I was still in my old job and I was also lucky to have a supportive boss who understood why I wanted to move on.
I’m now on Faithful+Gould’s structured trainee development programme, where I get a broad range of experiences in my building surveying role. At the moment I’m carrying out condition surveys, measured surveys and defect diagnosis.
College is hard work, but I’m used to all the assignments and revision now.
Studying was a shock to the system as it was a step up from my last course, the NVQ Level 3 Bricklaying. I’m on sponsored day release at New College Nottingham where I’m in the final year of the HNC in Construction and the Built Environment. College is hard work, but I’m used to all the assignments and revision now. Next up is going straight into the third year of the part-time five-year building surveying degree at Sheffield Hallam or Nottingham Trent.
At college I mix with students on the full-time HNC course and obviously we make comparisons about full-time versus part-time study. There’s more than one way to progress and people are suited to different pathways. But I’ve never looked back since joining Faithful+Gould and I really value the chance to work and study at the same time - putting the theory into practice.
Bricklaying gave me a start in the industry, and a trade to fall back on can never be a bad thing to have! That five years’ experience also gave me confidence when I first went on site as a building surveyor. I already had an understanding of the principles of construction and knew how to interpret construction drawings. The office environment was new to me, but colleagues were really welcoming and helpful.
I wanted this badly and there was no way I was going to give up.
It’s a difficult time for young people, with fewer opportunities in recession. But I wanted this badly and there was no way I was going to give up. I know I made the right choice. I’d encourage people not to feel stuck with the decisions they made as a school leaver – it may take time to change direction, but, if you’re persistent, positive things happen eventually!