Apprentice Insights: The Value of Hands-on Experience

7 February 2024

The building surveying industry offers some of the most interesting and rewarding career opportunities, which is why our Apprenticeship Scheme has become such an important part of our people and careers development programme.

Join us as we shine a spotlight on one of our current apprentices Bradley, and share insights into what inspired him to join the scheme, what he’s studying, and his aspirations for his post-graduate future.

What attracted you into the world of building surveying?

I actually wanted to be a pilot, but I was inspired by my dad’s career in building surveying, so once I got to sixth form, I made the decision to follow in his footsteps. I was attracted to the profession because I liked the thought of being out in the field enjoying the diversity of surveying different types of buildings, rather than sitting at a desk all day.

I undertook a number of work experience sessions with FFT and when I learnt about how so much variety is involved in the role, conducting surveys, managing projects and contract administration for example, this further motivated me to pursue a career in this industry.

 What course are you studying?

I’m on the Building Surveying apprenticeship, studying at the University College of Estates Management (UCEM). It’s a four year course that leads to a BSc (Hons) Degree in Building Surveying. Every year I study four different modules, starting with Level 3 and working up to Level 6 for the final year of assignments.

Over all the modules, my two favourite have been Construction Technology and Building Pathology, mostly because they relate to the work I’m currently doing.

Why did you choose the apprenticeship route?

Studying at university is fine for the theoretical side of things, but it doesn’t give you any practical experience. This for me is one of the most valuable aspects of the apprenticeship, gaining hands-on experience and learning skills first hand from seasoned experts, as well as enjoying the opportunity to survey buildings covering a variety of age and construction type.

What is the best thing about studying an apprenticeship supported by FFT?

I had a great deal of support working with Senior Partner Colin Farrell during my first year, and now I’ve joined Senior Associate Grant McFall’s team, I’m benefiting from a variety of guidance and encouragement from a highly experienced group of colleagues who are able to share a diverse range of insight and knowledge with me.

When I was studying the Building Pathology module, for example, I learnt the theory behind defects and how to identify and remedy them. Now I’ve had the opportunity to actually conduct practical surveys, coming across defects such as damp and mould, concrete issues and structural problems, making the theory side so much easier to understand.

I look up to Grant and Colin, as both are so knowledgeable and have taught me a huge amount whilst supporting me through my course.

What are your plans for the future?

Once I’ve completed my apprenticeship and passed the RICS APC, I will hold the title of Chartered Building Surveyor. The thought of potentially becoming one of the youngest chartered building surveyors is very exciting, and I’m looking forward to building my experience and expanding my knowledge over the coming years.

A note from Grant McFall, Bradley’s Team Leader

Bradley has been part of my team for two years. Over that time, he has developed good experience of residential stock condition surveys with Senior Partner Colin Farrell, and has done a good job of applying that to a range of schools and theatres. This included over 50 RAAC school surveys, helping to overcome the much publicised concrete crisis of 2023.

With the support of senior team members, Bradley is now running projects dealing directly with contractors and clients. He is building a solid portfolio of completed projects, including fire safety and fire reinstatement schemes.

Over the coming months, Bradley will be assisting me with a strategic asset review for Orbit, and helping with the replacement of a RAAC roof at St Bartholomew’s School. It’s clear to see that the value of works he is responsible for is increasing, as are the complexities of the instructions.

From my personal point of view, it is great to see someone come into the industry with limited experience and no qualifications, then experience them develop into a confident professional with a degree and chartered status on the horizon. I am proud to be part of Bradley’s journey!