Setting a strong foundation to your career in the construction industry

Bethany Batty
If University seems too daunting or not the right fit for you, and you have a desire to get out into the world and experience first hand what a career in construction could mean to you, a Degree Apprenticeship could be exactly what you are looking for.

A year into my apprenticeship I wanted to reflect back on what I have accomplished in this short period of time, highlight the flexibility of these schemes in developing the right career path for you, and hopefully inspire people who are in the same position as I was 12 months ago, to sign up and ‘earn while you learn’!

In the middle of A-Level stress, I decided university was not for me, which came as a shock to my parents and my teachers as up to that point I was set on pursuing a degree in engineering. I was looking for alternative opportunities when I came across Degree Apprenticeships at Faithful+Gould. I had never heard of Quantity Surveying, but I was eager to learn more. As I read into what it was all about, I recognised the value of my skill set in the industry and saw the potential for a dynamic and interesting career.

Joining a well structured, established programme

Following a successful application and assessment centre for a Degree Apprentice role based in the Leeds office I was invited to the office to meet my team, familiarise myself with my new working environment and meet with another degree apprentice. The office had a laid back yet productive atmosphere and the staff were welcoming and friendly. The support I was given made the daunting step of starting my career a smooth and natural transition.

The workload started off slowly giving me time to settle in but picked up as I became more acquainted with the projects. I worked with several different staff members who were from various disciplines and at different stages in their career, all of which were all very supportive.

Faithful+Gould has a very well-established apprenticeship programme which is evident by the outstanding amount of support the team provide and the early years community throughout the business. The structure of my apprenticeship is in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University on a day release basis BSCH Quantity Surveying course.

Our community of apprentices

I am just one of seven apprentices in my office alone, with three more set to join this year. It’s reassuring to know that other people are going through the same process at the same time, and that there is a network of people who will be able to relate to anything you want to discuss. At Faithful+Gould, we are given the opportunity to interact with all staff and regions nationally. Within my first months, I travelled down to London for a two-day apprenticeship induction hosted by the early careers team. Here I connected with other apprentices from all over the UK to engage in a packed agenda full of fun and informative activities and speakers. I learnt a lot about the company, my role and how to get the most out of my time as part of the SNC Lavalin community. This was a great chance to network and learn about other people’s experiences.

Work and Life Balance

I have found that the work life balance is difficult to manage but working whilst studying is very beneficial to my progress, especially at university. The knowledge and experience I pick up day-to-day in the work place are directly applicable to my degree. On the job training offers you the chance the learn, develop and maintain the skills that you will need to demonstrate during your degree and throughout your career. I attend the course with another apprentice in my office which gives opportunity for us to collaborate and share our ideas and concerns.

Faithful+Gould are considerate of the commitments you have as an apprentice and lend themselves to help in any way they can. I feel more than comfortable to open up discussions when I’m facing deadlines or obstacles as my managers work with me to find solutions.

An engaging work environment

Unlike many jobs I’ve had previously, I find my work engaging. Since I started, I have had exposure to a variety of work based around both construction management and quantity surveying. I am fortunate to be a part of the Leeds manufacturing team, which due to their wealth of expertise, lead jobs nationally throughout the UK, as well as in Europe. Specialising primarily in food and drink as well as warehousing, we are working closely with our clients to deliver several large-scale factory extensions and refurbishments. Much of the construction associated with this sector is outside the scope of my university course, offering me a more varied understanding of construction and develop my core competencies. Working on projects of such large scale has also provided me with the opportunity to travel. I’m currently working with Princes Cardiff, which involves the construction of a new warehouse and production building in addition to the demolition and refurbishment of existing buildings. This means I travel to Cardiff once a month to attend meetings and valuations. It’s fascinating to have an overview of the whole project and see the progress of construction firsthand on-site visits.

Why you should apply to be a Degree Apprentice

Working together with colleagues who have a rich range of knowledge and expertise has vastly developed my understanding. I have been encouraged to ask as many questions as possible by my colleagues who are more than willing to answer and explain. The structure of the early careers programme and the flexibility to explore your areas of strength, along with the remarkable services and opportunities this company can provide makes Faithful+Gould a perfect learning environment alongside my studies.