When I was 18 years old I was approaching my final year of a successful GNVQ in art and design which would have secured my place at university to start a degree in multimedia. Disenchanted by the escalating costs of university and a slightly immature attitude I decided to quit 2 weeks before my course ended.
Following this I did what most 18 year olds do - have a couple of factory jobs on and off - but one year on I had no job and no prospects. At the age of 19 my dad got me a job as a labourer. It was basic stuff, setting site compounds up, keeping them clean and generally just helping out around site.
As I gained more experience I started working on the civil engineering side, constructing deep drainage and helping out the engineer to set out. During this time I was offered a chance to do my NVQ 2, this qualification proved valuable to me in the future. I also qualified for my plant licences including dumper, excavator, roller and telescoping forklift. These too helped me to progress and develop through the ranks.
By the time I turned 25 I had enough experience to be a ganger for my own small crew and travelled around to our own jobs. At the age of 29 I decided to go travelling for four months which gave me time to reflect on what I was doing with my life… after all I was nearly 30.
When I returned home I quickly got back into work and found myself slabbing a set of stairs. Whilst doing this heavy manual work I decided I must take a step back and find a job where I could develop academically and move away from the backbreaking work. My goals changed after travelling and I really wanted to immigrate to New Zealand so I did some research and understood that to increase my chances it would pay to have a degree. So I used what experience I had to apply to Balfour Beatty as a trainee site manager. They offered a day release program to attend university. I had to undergo a lengthy interview process which involved a test; I passed and got the placement.
I am now 33 and have been working with Balfour Beatty for nearly 4 years. They have helped me develop my skills to fulfil my role. I have completed a 2 year HNC course which enabled me the access to a degree, I have completed my NVQ 3, first aid course, C.I.T.B SMSTS management course and I am currently in my 2nd year at university.
The path has been long and I still have my goal of emigrating in my sights. But I know when I have completed my course I will have gained enough experience in my role to quickly gain a good position and be an asset to any company.
My advice to anyone is to always show willing, work hard and have respect for others, It will be noticed by people who have the power to help you progress and any opportunities that arise will come to you.
Take any courses and training offered and be grateful as these courses are not cheap if you have to pay for them yourself and in this day and age most employers require a certain level of qualification for any job level.
I quite literally started from the bottom but with time and hard work I can see that my future is bright.