As part of Apprenticeship Week 2023 we are delighted to share a few words from the building services apprentices here at the council. They talk about what it is like to be an apprentice and why they chose this route over other education or career choices.
My name is Henry Salmon, and I am a twenty-year-old degree building surveyor apprentice working for Portsmouth City Council within the building services department.
I began my apprenticeship at the age of eighteen having just finished sixth form college. Whilst in college I struggled to establish exactly what I wanted to pursue as a career, however I always had a passion for the built environment, and I knew that I wanted to go straight into work and learn on the job as opposed to undertaking full time study at university. In college holidays, I spent time gaining valuable work experience with a number of local surveying practises which confirmed my desire to become a building surveyor. I would also attribute having this work experience to playing a key part in being successful in the application process for my apprenticeship and would highly recommend this to anyone who is looking to apply for a similar role.
I have worked for Portsmouth City Council for two and a half years now, which marks the halfway point in my five-year apprenticeship. In this time, I have had the opportunity to develop my skillset by obtaining domestic energy assessor and fire risk assessor qualifications.
As a building surveyor I am responsible for the repair and maintenance of existing buildings by diagnosing building defects and providing recommendations on the remedial works required. My current workload within the repairs and maintenance team typically consists of carrying out stock condition surveys and managing large repair works on-site.
I am given a lot of responsibility within my role and my managers put a lot of trust in my abilities as a surveyor, which I find very motivating and rewarding as a young professional. The building surveying degree apprenticeship course at Portsmouth City Council is very well structured, with of lots of opportunities for progression and there are multiple apprentices in each stage of the five-year course, who can provide advice and support to apprentices at earlier stages.
My proudest achievement so far at Portsmouth City Council is having been successful in passing an internal apprentice assessment interview, which means that I will progress to the building projects team in February 2023, and I look forward to enrolling on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) at this time.
Alongside my apprenticeship, I study part time at the University of Portsmouth where I am currently completing a BSc (Hons) Building Surveying degree. I am in my third year of university and will graduate in 2025, where at this point I aim to sit my APC final interview with RICS to become a chartered building surveyor.
My name is Cerys Rogers, and I am in my 4th year as a degree building surveyor apprentice at Portsmouth City Council. I started the apprenticeship straight after college, knowing that I would like to gain practical experience alongside furthering my education.
My role involves working on refurbishment projects as well as undertaking different types of surveys on properties. I help to maintain and improve the council’s portfolio of building stock, from houses to public conveniences, which means there is a variety of buildings to look after. As part of my apprenticeship, I attend the University of Portsmouth on day release each week, this gives me the opportunity to learn the theoretical side which I can then put into practice at work.
The highlight of my apprenticeship is the opportunity to take on a variety of roles and responsibilities, from undertaking energy performance certificate assessments and fire risk assessments at the beginning of my training to specifying and manging the works to refurbish a house, there is always something to be learning.
The apprenticeship provides continuous support which allows me to gain the experience needed to undertake my Assessment of Professional Competence with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
In the near future I hope to become a Chartered Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
My name is Fraser Buttle and I am a 4th year degree building surveyor apprentice within Portsmouth City Council’s building project team. I am currently working towards my building surveying degree at the University of Portsmouth and chartership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
I joined the council in 2019 at the age of seventeen shortly after finishing my A-Levels at college. I always had an interest in construction and engineering during college, so when my lecturer sent me a link to the apprenticeship, I knew that’s what I wanted to do, rather than going to university and having to pay for it!
I can honestly say that I enjoy being a building surveyor, mainly due to the mixture of on-site and office work. One day I could be writing up surveys or creating CAD drawings in the office, the next I could be out climbing a scaffold for an inspection with a contractor. The scale and variety of the council’s building stock means there are always new and exciting projects for apprentices to undertake.
Within the first couple of months, I was surprised how much building surveying knowledge I had picked up let alone the amount I have now obtained by year four. I was given a mentor to support me throughout this apprenticeship and RICS chartership, which has meant I have always had someone on hand to ask and help me overcome challenges.
During my time here, I have been working on projects ranging from £20,000 to £3.5m in value. These projects range from re-roofing works on famous museums within Portsmouth, to fire safety upgrades on one of the tallest tower blocks in the city. The responsibility for this type of work seemed daunting at first, but the apprenticeship has equipped me with all the necessary competence to project manage this work confidently.
I am really glad that I clicked on the link that the lecturer sent to me four years ago!
An apprentice degree is an outstanding opportunity for self-exploration, independence and academic advancement, with vocational, intellectual, and social aspects being equally fundamental.
Having started my degree apprenticeship with Portsmouth City Council in April of 2021, it has allowed me to focus and specialise on specific courses through the means of university and work-based courses, whilst also enjoying the enormous benefits of working in the industry and gaining the invaluable knowledge, skills and behaviours of the working worlds. This is the primary reason for wanting to complete a degree apprentice in the first place.
Though my employment up to this point with the council has been short, there are still numerous responsibilities and achievements I have undertaken within my role and many of these I am proud of. My current role, undertaking fire risk assessments, required me to complete a level 3 course in fire risk assessment fundamentals. This is a vital process that is necessary to be completed to ensure the safety of Portsmouth residents.
For me, the independence and professionalism that coincides within the role is something I greatly enjoy, as well as the social aspects that come with working within a highly functioning team.
What motivates me day to day is working towards my Assessment of Professional Competence to become a charted surveyor. This being my future aspiration, my biggest achievement to date was completing my level 1 portfolio to progress from first year to second year. This is the first step in a long and challenging path to becoming a chartered surveyor.
My name is Tom, I’m a degree apprentice in building surveying and have been working for Portsmouth City Council for nearly two years. My role within the council is primarily carrying out Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) on the residential blocks that are council owned.
I applied to this role after more than a year of searching. This was a long process as there were few degree apprenticeships, I was interested in. After the long hunt, I found that Portsmouth City Council had the best apprenticeship opportunity for me. It offered a good training programme and career pathway.
The most enjoyable part of my apprenticeship is the variety of work and the clear levels of progression that are presented. There is continuous support from managers and the university lecturers to help with any issue and to ensure I keep progressing at a steady pace. Each year the apprentices progress into new job roles within the council to help broaden our knowledge and give us more experience dealing with a variety of tasks. The chance to shadow and learn from experienced surveyors is always an option and is a great asset in building up my career.
Taking on a degree apprenticeship is no easy task, it is fast paced and requires you to learn quickly. This was a notable challenge when starting the apprenticeship, especially once university started. Time management was vital in ensuring all deadlines were met for both work in the council and university. To manage this, I make use of time management tools that work for me, such as calendars, whiteboards, notes etc. The main advice that I can give to anyone starting an apprenticeship or wanting to start one is to be methodical and disciplined in the how you manage your time.
I am Steve Groves, head of building maintenance with responsibility for managing our surveying teams who are maintaining and improving our 15,000 housing assets and various corporate properties including schools. We established the apprentice programme five years ago as a response to struggling to attract and recruit chartered surveyors into our surveying teams. Since 2017 we have appointed 18 apprentices and in 2022 the first apprentice appointed became a RICS Chartered Building Surveyor.
The programme is linked to studying for a BSc (Hons) building surveying degree part time at the University of Portsmouth where apprentices attend one day per week to gain academic knowledge. They work four days a week within various building teams gaining practical surveying and project management experience, initially undertaking a variety of stock surveys with additional training undertaken to carry out energy performance certificates (EPC) surveys and fire risk assessments before progressing to manage a diverse range of refurbishment projects where they prepare specifications and manage the works on site. The type of projects the team carry out may include decorations to external and communal areas, fire upgrading work, window replacement, re-roofing, electrical work, extensions, fencing and structural repairs. The size of individual projects managed depends on the apprentice ability.
All the apprentices are supported through the programme and mentored as they progress is through a series of structured competency interviews and assessments as we prepare the apprentices for their RICS assessment of professional competence (APC)
The apprentice programme is an integral part of our surveying structure adding real value to the work undertaken by the teams and as an organisation we gain good quality surveyors.