EACH YEAR, the BMI Apprentice of the Year competition helps apprentices on their journey to build their future career – by helping them with better business understanding, stronger communication skills and improved confidence. These are just some of the benefits that past winners and finalists of the BMI Apprentice of the Year competition have received and, as entries for the 2019 competition continue to arrive, some of past finalists have been reflecting upon the experience and what it taught them.
It’s not only the apprentices that have benefited from the competition, it’s also their employers as the apprentices have acquired confidence and skills; they’ve seen them able to run jobs and act independently; putting into practice the wider knowledge and experience they gained from the two-day finals. Last year’s winners themselves also report that they are now taking on more responsibility in their roles as a result of the competition. In addition, some of those finalists are now in business on their own, while others are representing the industry and recruiting new entrants as Construction Ambassadors with the CITB.
“I get to look at jobs before they start, work with customers, identify issues and the best way to deal with them and this is because of what I learnt from the Apprentice of the Year competition. I’m trusted more and more and allowed to do jobs on my own,” says Kieran Forster, Flat Roofing Apprentice of the Year 2018, who works for Hodgson Sayers of Stanley, County Durham.
Joe Burgess, 2018 Highly Commended in the flat roofing category, works for East Suffolk Council and agrees, saying: “I’m now doing a lot of my own properties. I get briefed by the housing officer and then organise the job myself, estimating and ordering materials.”
Jay Webster, 2018 BMI Pitched Roofing Apprentice of the Year, works for Yorkshire Heritage Roofing based in Leeds and believes the experience of taking part went well beyond simply roofing. “The competition wasn’t just about roofing skills – it also included elements such as presenting, which really helps when it comes to talking to customers. If you can’t speak to the customer, you can have all the skill in the world and not win work.”
Other contestants have found that their success in the competition opened doors that they had not even known were there. Tom Thompson (pitched roofing Highly Commended 2018) was named Rising Star of the Year in the Pitched Roof Awards 2018 and, like Tom Knight (pitched roofing Highly Commended 2017), is to be a Construction Ambassador for the CITB.
Both Knight and Thompson strongly believe that the competition was an important part of their education as roofers and businessmen. “The competition broadened my knowledge. It wasn’t just hands-on skill – it went a bit deeper. For instance, in the fault-finding section, I learnt that you had to do more than look to see if a few tiles were broken to check a roof,” explains Tom Thompson. Now self-employed, Tom works with Roundway Roofing in Devizes, which is sponsoring him through college to get his Site Manager’s card.
Tom Knight and Joe Stradling, winner of the 2017 competition, both say meeting the tutors and the judges was also an important element. “The Q&A sessions meant we could ask the judges about their background and how they got to be where they are. This was a fantastic insight into where we might want to be and how we could get there,” says Knight.
Joe, who became self-employed last August sums up the experience. “I think having presentations from all the judges, who explained what it takes to start up your own business was really valuable. They were stories that really motivate you. The workshops and exercises in talking to customers were also incredibly helpful and inspired me to set up my own business.” he says.
The 2019 competition closes for entries on 3rd May 2019 and is a great chance for all those recognised as an apprentice by their employer, or those working towards qualified status, to set themselves apart as someone with that roofing ‘X factor’ – whether they want to run their own business or become a highly-valued employee.
The competition asks entrants to tell BMI about their views on how the roofing sector is changing and how their education is impacting their plans for their future career. Finalists will come together in July for a two-day event – where they will receive training and compete on a number of tasks about running their own roofing business, including business planning and presentation skills.