Somerset apprentice helping to transform Bristol building thanks to Shared Apprenticeships South West
Being part of the team working on a multi-million pound University development in the heart of Bristol has been the perfect introduction to the construction industry for one Somerset apprentice.
Alfie O’Regan began working on the transformation of the University of Bristol’s Fry Building last September when he enrolled with Shared Apprenticeships South West (SASW). As part of the scheme, the 18 year old has been given a unique insight into the booming construction sector, gaining hands-on experience alongside classroom time to achieve industry leading qualifications.
He said: “It is a different experience being on site and I really like how the work varies from day to day. Training to be a site manager, I need to have knowledge of all areas of a development so I can find myself involved with everything from design work to progress reviews and team meetings.”
The SASW scheme was set up by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) in response to growing calls throughout the trade to shine a spotlight on apprenticeships. Supporting apprentices from day one, the team employ workers and provide placements with host employers across the region.
Alfie, who completed a civil engineering course at college before signing up with SASW, said he knew he would thrive in a vocational setting rather than sat in a classroom.
The apprentice, from Congresbury, near Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, said: “I prefer to be hands on with my learning, it is the best way for me to gain knowledge of a subject so I knew an apprenticeship was right for me. I heard about SASW when I was at college and after some research, I contacted the team, had an interview and began working on a construction site.”
Redevelopment of the Fry Building will see it become the new home of the University’s School of Mathematics. Alongside a revamp of the Grade II Listed site, the scheme will also include modern landscaping and a new entrance as well as the option for more development in the future.
Although SASW placements last for a minimum of 13 weeks, they can be extended by host contractors. And Alfie has obviously impressed his Balfour Beatty UKCS colleagues on site as he will be able to stay on and see the Fry Building completed this summer. While being managed by SASW, Alfie’s role on site is also part of the Southern Construction Framework which requires contractors to take on four technical apprentices over the life of the programme.
He added: “I am really enjoying my time on site, especially as I need to learn how to create a development that mixes old structures and techniques, with new. I got stuck in to the role straight away and I have learned so much already. It has been great and really exciting to watch the development start to take shape.”
Alongside his time on the University build, Alfie also spends one day a week at college studying a BTEC Level 3 extended diploma in Construction and the Built Environment. After completing the apprenticeship, he hopes to become a full time site manager and work on both small and large-scale developments.
“I would recommend SASW to anyone because it is a brilliant way to learn on the job, get experience of the construction industry and also be supported along the way,” he said. “It is really enjoyable and has helped me to focus on where I want to go and what I want to do with my construction career.”
Throughout Alfie’s time with SASW, he has regular support and guidance from his apprenticeship mentor Julia Coulton who covers Bristol and the surrounding area.
“Alfie is a pleasure to mentor, he shows dedication and commitment and I have enjoyed watching him progress so quickly in such a short period of time,” she said.
“He has risen to the challenge and the feedback from Balfour Beatty as the host employer has been really positive.”