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Getting a foot on the construction career ladder – Jack’s story

There’s no doubt that the construction sector offers a wealth of variety and opportunity for anyone lucky enough to work in it, but as a school leaver, it can be hard to know how to take that first step and get involved. 

Our trainee estimator, Jack Ryan, found that an apprenticeship offered the best way to get a foot in the door. Jack explains, “Apprenticeship schemes are a great way of getting into any industry, especially construction, because they allow you to earn a wage whilst still learning a trade. They also mean that you can combine academic study with practical experience on site. I found this invaluable – I learnt a lot and I’m sure that the experience benefited my long-term job prospects. 

“When you’re young, it’s hard to know exactly what you want to do career-wise. Apprenticeships allow you to explore your options and figure out what you really want to do. 

“There are lots of apprenticeships out there but for me, the construction sector just felt right.  As a teenager I found that I preferred work that was more hands-on. My dad was a tiler and used to do a lot of ‘DIY’ in the house so as a child I was always fascinated by construction. As I grew older, I would help him with jobs around the house and found that I really enjoyed it. 

“It’s easy to feel the pressure to stay at school but after completing my first year in sixth form I decided that it wasn’t my cup of tea and that I’d much rather do something in construction and start work straight away. The idea of creating furniture and other pieces out of wood appealed to me so I opted for Joinery at first, studying at the Buildings Craft College in Stratford. After achieving a Level 1 in Joinery I was told that an apprenticeship would be the best route for me and that’s when I decided to make the switch to site carpentry. 

“I really did my research at that point. I spoke to people in the industry to find out more about good companies to work for and landed an apprentice carpenter role with Durkan. I’m glad I took that time to find the right business and apprenticeship for me. I worked on site for three years on a range of projects all over London and with a great group of people with varied backgrounds and experience. That allowed me to gain a Level 2 in Site Carpentry and I then moved into an office role as a trainee estimator. 

“When you’ve been lucky enough to have that experience and support, I believe it’s really important to ‘pay it back’ and try and help other young people. 

“During my time as an apprentice I had the opportunity to do this, going into different schools and talking to the pupils about working in construction and apprenticeships more broadly. It was good to help students who, like my younger self, had an interest in construction but just didn’t know where to start. 

“Once you’re in the industry, the opportunities are endless. I’m still fairly new to Estimating and I’m enjoying taking each day as it comes but ultimately, I’d like to progress to senior estimator one day. For now, my real aspiration is to complete a university degree in construction after gaining an HNC (Higher National Certificate).  The sky really is the limit if you can just get a foot in the door.”

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