Persistence paid off for apprentice Charlie Humphries after he followed his family’s footsteps into the construction industry.
He has begun a commercial apprenticeship with Stonewood Partnerships and set his sights on learning all about the economics of the business. The 19-year-old from Swindon sent out a flurry of letters to building firms when he finished his A-levels but when the pandemic struck and sites were closed down, he didn’t give up.
He had been offered at place at University of the West of England to study for a degree in quantity surveying and commercial management but he was determined to get the hands-on experience while learning that an apprenticeship offered.
“I was a bit despondent at first but I was determined to keep trying,” said the former Royal Wootton Basset School student.
“Construction was always going to be my career and at first I thought it was going to be in bricklaying. I was always exposed to that side of it when I was younger but when I got into sixth form I found I was interested in economics so I decided to focus on that."
“I wanted to take the apprenticeship route and get my qualifications through that. I like the industry and I wanted to go straight in and get a job and start learning.”
He took a labouring job at his family’s bricklaying and scaffolding business to gain more experience until the right opportunity came along – while continuing to send out letters and his CV.
He was delighted when he received a reply from Stonewood Partnerships, inviting him for an interview at its office in Tormarton.
After that went well he was invited back again for a day of work experience. “I knew straight away from the interview it was where I wanted to work but the day of work experience really nailed that on,” he said. “I was delighted when they offered me the chance to do my apprenticeship with Stonewood.”
If he thought joining the busy firm would mean a gentle introduction he was soon put right.
“They have thrown me straight in the deep end, I’ve been doing tenders, doing a bit of buying and chasing up contractors – all the good stuff really,” he said. “It has been awesome to have been given that trust and responsibility so quickly. It was a little bit daunting going in and at first but everyone helped me settle in.”
He will begin a Level 4 NVQ in Construction and the Built Environment at the City of Bristol College one day a week from September. “It will be great because I’ll be learning in the classroom but also getting real hands-on experience at the same time, it’s the best of both worlds,” he said.
Stonewood Partnerships commercial director Adam Marks said: “Stonewood has a long tradition of finding and developing our own talent. Many of our directors began working here labouring on sites and that in-depth knowledge of the industry at all levels really pays dividends where it matters – in the quality of the homes we build.