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‘Sandwich’ students learn the ropes at Swindon construction firm

Written by Peter Davison on .

Swindon-based construction firm Beard is supporting two graduate ‘sandwich’ students, Dominic Dack and Morgan John, with a year-long work placement where they will be gaining valuable construction skills.

Both students are doing ‘sandwich’ degrees, which offers a work experience year of putting classroom theory into practice between their second and third years of study.

Dominic Dack, 20, who lives in West Oxfordshire, is studying for a BSc (Hons) degree in quantity surveying and commercial management with Coventry University.

“I applied to a lot of companies in the area and was given a number of interviews,” he said. “I found that Beard not only offered the type of work I was looking for but were also the most friendly and welcoming.

“Throughout this placement, I will have a chance to experience several roles within a construction team. At the moment, I’m working in pre-construction and later in the year, I will be working as a quantity surveyor trainee.

"I’ve already worked on a live construction project at Monkton Combe Senior School near Bath and helped in putting together a project proposal for a care home.”

After completing his year at Beard, Dominic plans to finish his degree and then apply for a quantity surveyor graduate training programme.

He eventually hopes to find a full-time job as a quantity surveyor or an estimator and qualify as a chartered surveyor with RICS.

He adds: “University is great, but it can’t teach you everything about an industry and it can’t give you a full understanding of the role in the real world. I think it is something that’s really necessary in the construction sector.”

Swindon local Morgan John meanwhile, is part-way through studying for a BEng (Hons) degree in civil engineering with Loughborough University. He found out about the placement through his university’s careers officer, and since starting in July, has worked on multiple Beard projects including Beard’s £1.8 million refurbishment and extension of the Grade-II listed Corsham Mansion House.

“This placement at Beard has given me an opportunity to work closely with a senior design manager and see a project move from the tendering stage, through to construction and finally completion,” he said.

“My placement at Beard is hard work, but enjoyable. Everyone here is easy to approach and are happy to show me how to do things that I don’t understand.”

Morgan is planning to use his experience at Beard to become a design manager, project manager or a planner. “I want to be able to drive past a building and point at it and say, ‘I built that’,” he said.

“My Beard placement will give me experience of working within a construction team and developing key skills. Industry placements are important because they allow apply the theory that you learn in university being put into practice.”

Construction is one of the UK’s largest industries and employs around 2.2 million people. But the industry faces a huge labour shortage due to a rapidly ageing population and fewer new entrants. The Chartered Institute of Building reports that 157,000 new recruits will be needed by 2021 just to keep up with current demand.

“Beard has provided structured construction training schemes for graduates for many years,” said Marc Bayley, Beard regional director.

“As a family-owned business, we strongly believe in providing hands-on work experience for students like Dominic and Morgan who are interested in pursuing construction careers.

"Not only do placements give them the opportunity to get a feel for our industry and the many exciting and diverse careers it offers, they also help us attract the next generation of talented people into our business and the wider construction industry which faces a critical skills shortage and needs to recruit 52,300 people annually over the next three years.”

Beard offers a range of training opportunities, such as industry placement years for undergraduates, which through hands-on experience with real construction teams on real projects, aims to help young people become confident and capable construction workers for the future.