Why my apprenticeship was the best launch pad for a career in construction
As a wee lad, I loved working with my hands and making things. There’s a great sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing you’ve created something yourself, taking the raw materials and turning them into something. My grandfather and my dad had a joinery company, so growing up I spent my school holidays working in the shop – I wanted from a very young age to follow in their path and be a carpenter.
I joined John Laing Construction’s apprenticeship programme as an apprentice carpenter and joiner in the 70s. This was the beginning of my career in construction. At that time, most of the large contractors employed their own traditional trades, however these days it’s typically the specialist trades and subcontractors that employ the most apprentices.
The first three months of my apprenticeship was spent at Wimpey College, as John Laing had a training partnership with Wimpey. This was a fantastic place to kick-start, with a focus on practical skills and coordinating the joinery aspects with the other elements of construction such as site engineering and masonry trades. The course essentially recreated the interfaces and dependencies between trades in a site environment.
Completing my apprenticeship gave me a great foundation to further develop my career. I was fortunate that I worked for a company that strongly believed in developing potential from within – and am even more fortunate to have continued to find companies within this industry that offer the same level of support to progressing people’s careers.
I joined Multiplex in 2017, as the Project Director for the University of Glasgow project as well as a number of new business opportunities we were tendering in Glasgow at the time. Over my career I’ve worked my way up through roles that cover the full construction cycle, from site supervision to site management, and now leadership roles. I’m currently managing the Post Project Completion phase for the University of Glasgow projects, a role that requires a high level of attention to detail, strong project management and coordination skills, clear communication and an ability to effectively manage people.
My favourite thing about construction is that we individually and collectively create buildings which serve a real purpose in society and the environment: the homes, universities, offices, hospitals, and schools we build can positively impact people’s lives. It’s also great to be able to show your kids the buildings you played a part in creating! Everyone in this industry feels a real sense of pride about the projects they’ve worked on.
I would strongly recommend an apprenticeship in construction to anyone considering their career path. Beginning your career as an apprentice offers a great platform to grow and develop into trades supervision, management and ultimately to director and industry leadership roles. What I’ve found throughout my career is that if you show your determination, commitment and potential, the reward is there – in the investment in training and supported development opportunities to grow and progress.
There’s so many different roles within the construction industry, and many roles that require specialist skillsets like carpentry, and it applies more than ever as the industry desperately needs more people with practical skills.