Perspectives

Becoming a construction apprentice

Mace’s Benjamin Susca won ‘Apprentice of the Year’ at the Made in Manchester Awards 2018. Below, he explains his journey as an apprentice at Mace and his top tips for anyone considering taking up an apprenticeship.  

I started with Mace in August 2015 after enrolling on an apprenticeship programme called the Manchester Life Advanced Apprenticeship.

For some background, Manchester Life is a developer comprising of a joint venture between the Manchester City Council and the Abu Dhabi United Group who are investing around £1bn over the next ten years into Ancoats and New Islington, Manchester. 

When I was completing my A-levels I had researched the various options available to me which included university, an apprenticeship or a full time job.

I found that with an apprenticeship, I would have the chance of gaining two years of on the job experience in different disciplines, complete a qualification which would count towards the first two years of a degree, as well as gain invaluable relationships - all this, minus the university fees! It seemed too good to be true.

During my time on the apprenticeship programme I undertook various roles at different companies as well as attending college on a day release basis. At the end of the two years I gained a level four HNC and NVQ in construction and the built environment.

The things I’ve learned whilst on the programme are invaluable and I am always learning more.

The good thing about this industry is that every day is different and construction is very fast moving and always looking at ways to implement new practices. 

Last year, just before completing my apprenticeship I applied and gained a place at the University of Salford to study ‘Construction Project Management’ on day release for three years. 

Since then I have joined the Mace team on the Manchester Town Hall project where I’ve taken on more responsibility whilst assisting the project director and project managers.

I am now the first point of contact for all apprentices for their day to day jobs as well as their qualifications, and I have also taken on a mentoring role for an apprentice employed by Mace. 

Ben's top tips 

For someone looking for an apprenticeship route I would definitely recommend doing some research and taking on a role where the support and training system is developed and successful.

I would also certainly advise diving into whatever you’re doing – what I’ve found is that a lot of things you learn are from asking questions and being proactive. 

When you find something you don’t understand, ask as many questions as you want (your line manager will love it!).

Make sure you are always challenging yourself and don’t be worried about making mistakes as it’s what everyone learns from!

Finally, ensuring that you’re open to learning and taking on new things is key at every level!