Insight into an Apprenticeship in Construction

04 March 2020 | Focus | Guest Author

One of the big advantages of choosing an apprenticeship is the valuable ‘on-the-job’ experience you gain, while also earning. But how do you know whether it’s the route for you?

To give you an idea of life in the construction industry, we spoke to Brogan Dawson, a trainee Technician at national new homes builder, Miller Homes.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

Construction is something that has always interested me, so after I completed my foundation course in engineering systems, an apprenticeship seemed to be the best step forward. My course is split between working in the office and studying at Napier University, which I attend  every few months for a two-week block, so I still get to learn while I work.

I discovered my apprenticeship at school after talking to the career’s advisor. When I asked for help, I was given a few apprenticeship scheme options, and Miller Homes was the clear frontrunner. 

How does the apprenticeship scheme work?

Right now, my time is split between university and working in the Technical Department. When I’m working I get to learn as I work, dipping into the basics of each job so I understand what will be expected of me once I graduate. So far, this has involved using the Miller Homes system to transfer files onto the planning and building warrant website. When I am not on site, however, I am studying the theory of construction and learning the functions of the Technical Department whilst concentrating on architecture I am also learning to understand the basics of engineering as well. Another element of my training is the personal development Miller Homes has put in place, with mentor support and also a schedule of training working with other trainees on personal awareness.

How are you finding the apprenticeship and what are your plans for after?

At first, I didn’t think I would be able to do this apprenticeship because I was worried that the change from school to work would be difficult for me. When I started though, I soon realised it was much easier than I expected, and finding out I could actually do the work, and do it well, was brilliant.

While I do enjoy the theory side of the apprenticeship, I definitely prefer the practical side of it because it helps me understand how to carry out the job properly.

Looking to the future, my main goal is to be fully qualified so that I can lose the ‘trainee’ part from my title and eventually become an Architectural Technician.

What advice would you offer to others considering the apprenticeship route?

The hardest part about getting into an apprenticeship when you’re used to being in a school environment is bringing yourself to apply. It may be a big change, but if you know you want to do it, and have a genuine interest in the subject, just go for it.

Understanding how to read a room is important in an office, because even though you can chat to your colleagues, you need to know when it’s time to focus and get on with your work. However, that doesn’t mean you should struggle in silence if you find something difficult. If you’re ever confused or stuck with a task, there will always be someone who can help you. It’s better to ask for help, rather than making an avoidable mistake.

-Brogan Dawson

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