National Apprenticeship Week: a Q&A with our technical apprentices

For National Apprenticeship Week, we asked our technical apprentices, Aaron Wathall and Sam Bartram, about their experience of the technical apprenticeship offered by Woodhead Construction.

What made you choose to do this apprenticeship programme?

Aaron: As my family are heavily involved in construction as well, my brothers a joiner and my dad works for the company as amaintenance manager. But we did our renovation at the bungalow where he basically did most of the stuff on his own so he’s very skilled. So yeah, I’ve always been around construction since I’ve been little. So, I thought, this is definitely for me. I also did in school as well which I really enjoyed.

Sam: So, the interest coming from my past job led me to see the other career paths in construction. And then this opportunity came about. So, I applied thinking, because I’ve always, I’ve always seen myself working on the other side of construction instead of on the tools. So, I applied and luckily, from what I’ve experienced and learned previously, is carried out into the values of the company. So, they invested in me, I believe.


What sort of activities have you been doing as part of the apprenticeship?

Aaron: So, it’s been a great experience so far, lots of knowledge in the business, and I’ve worked in and some of the knowledge I’ve learned along the way. And my apprenticeship has been priceless. My apprenticeship is called technical apprenticeship and involves experience in a number of different roles and sectors within the business. For example, project management, and quantity surveying, estimating, site management. And I’m currently doing estimating, an estimating placement. Before that I was project management, I did project management in Nottingham. So, that was in Eastglade for NCH, so we did a joint venture. And so, I was heavily involved in that where I did subcontracts, meetings, pre-lets, all kinds of stuff and a lot of health and safety as well. So, around doing testing checks on site, near misses for Kerri our Health and Safety manager. Also, site management, I did it just up the road from the office, Rufford Pastures. So, that was our own development, like a private one for just Woodheads. They were very nice houses to see be built. But I did join that project towards the end. So, I didn’t get to see most of the start of the foundations. It was just handing over plots and final touches. However, did really enjoy Rufford Pastures and all the site management, all the site managers were great who I worked with. Then I went on to go off to Eastglade. And I also did my quantity surveying there at Eastglade as well with Shanice, Shanice Wallace. She helped me show what went on behind the scenes because that’s what quantity surveyors do. You don’t really get to see their work, their practical work, it’s not like heavily seen. It’s all on computers and that, seen behind closed doors. She orders materials to site, making sure you’ve got the best prices. So, I was involved in like subcontractor orders, contract enquiries and I really enjoyed that as well. So far, it’s been a great experience. And I’m really enjoying it.

Sam: So, I started on site management, that was up at Oakfields. So, I’d assist with CCS preparations, organise pre-lets for new contractors coming on site. And then after that, moved on to project management. So, that was kind of assisting in pre-lets again, or commencement of sites starting, meetings with clients stuff like that, and then moved on to surveying with Matt Guy. So, that kind of comes before project management and I was pricing jobs, pricing works for other contractors to come in comparing prices and stuff like that, I really enjoyed my project management.


What part have you enjoyed the most?

Aaron: Meeting new people and gaining their knowledge, opening my career.

Sam: Project management.


What skills have you developed along the way?

Aaron: Probably I’ve become a lot more confident to talk to new people. Also, working a lot better with new people as well. So, well I’ve made quite a lot of friends who I see now and again when they pop in. So yeah, really enjoyed that as well.

Sam: I’d say my communication in ways to people that are older than me, to not like get intimidated and want to speak to them and learn, like asking questions, and just overall my knowledge of construction really in the past year.


What are your future plans from your apprenticeship?

Aaron: To pick a sector that I want to go down and a career that I want to fulfil. Hopefully get a degree at University and hopefully become very successful. And stay in the business.

Sam: So, hopefully, progress as far in the education sector as possible as well. So, get the highest qualifications in construction and hopefully, become a project manager within the company at some point.


What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about taking part in the Apprenticeship programme?

Aaron: Some advice, I would say, come in open minded and try and speak to as many people as possible. Always be respectful and show willing. That’s what people look out for most. And when you are working with new people, don’t be shy to ask questions, because at the end of the day you’re here to learn, and they’re the ones will all the knowledge which will hopefully pass down to you.

Sam: Enjoy it, but want to learn and see all the opportunities that can come from construction alone.