Training on the job as an apprentice

Laura Wheeldon
I first started working at Faithful+Gould as an apprentice in January 2013. I was 18 years old and had finished sixth form a couple of months previously having completed my A Levels.

I had been inspired to become a building surveyor by someone in the industry. I liked that, as a building surveyor, you can visibly see the difference that you can make to a building, whether that be diagnosing issues or designing new elements.

I started part-time study in September 2013 at New College Nottingham (NCN), which was a couple of months after first starting at Faithful+Gould. After two years of study I gained a HNC in Construction and the Built Environment  and due to my hard work throughout those two years, I was nominated for and won  a higher education award. This HNC qualification contributed towards my degree; so, following completion of this, I moved onto the third year of a part-time degree in Building Surveying at Sheffield Hallam University. Studying at University was quite different to NCN, it proved to be a challenge, but I knew I wanted to do well.

I have learnt a lot during the past three years at University, including how to manage a work-life balance! It was difficult to try and balance everything; going home after work to study is not fun, but in the end, it really was worth it. Working whilst studying proved to be very beneficial as it helped with my coursework and exams. I could draw advice from colleagues and experience from projects I was working on. For example, this year I had to complete a mock APC submission form with relevant competencies and experiences for a piece of coursework, followed by a small APC final interview to form part of one of my modules. Due to the advantage of working in the industry, this wasn’t too much of an onerous task, whereas if you are a full-time student, with minimal experience, I can imagine this would be more difficult. I have also been able to utilise my experience with Faithful+Gould on several other modules.

I have found it especially helpful during University study to have seen and experienced building surveying first-hand. During lectures, it seemed easier to build upon your knowledge and understand the concept having experience from the work you undertake day-to-day. I believe that my grades have benefited from ‘on the job training’ and I think that it would have been far more challenging to complete my degree if I was a student in full-time education.

When I joined the team in Nottingham I was pleased yet surprised to understand how many women worked at Faithful+Gould due to the construction industry being traditionally perceived as a male dominated environment. It highlighted to me the importance which is placed on the diversity of the workforce at Faithful+Gould. Throughout my years working within the industry, combined with the experience gained interacting with different characters and projects, this has helped to boost my confidence as a female building surveyor.  I envisage and have already started to notice that as I graduate and continue to work on more complex projects, my confidence will continue to grow.

I submitted my final piece of coursework (the dreaded dissertation!) back in April, I felt so proud and relieved to have completed my degree and I was  delighted to have been awarded with a First Class. I am now looking forward to starting the graduate scheme and the APC process. In the future I aim to become a successful, chartered surveyor, I believe that the apprenticeship route has provided me with an excellent foundation for my continued career progression.