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Daniel Gardner – An Apprenticeship success story

Daniel Gardner – An Apprenticeship success story

 “Would you like milk?”

"Would you like milk?” Every day Daniel estimated he would be saying this over 100 times to customers. He was fed up and needed a change. Now Daniel wakes up for work excited and relishes the chance to get stuck in. He loves being able to work outside on a site and feels valued by Balfour Beatty who are putting so much into his training. Daniel started his apprenticeship journey in February 2016.

Daniel waited four months until he was able to take up post and venture down to the TUCA building to begin his training. Although there was a bit of uncertainty, he was happy to wait knowing the potential this role had.

Before flourishing as a materials technician Daniel had managed to forge a career at Morrisons working as a team leader in their café.  Daniel was incredibly proud of his work at Morrisons and was very meticulous when undertaking any task there. This is something he has brought to his new role and combined it with his inquisitive mind, enabling him to deal with subcontractors on site with ease.

It would be easy to assume that Daniel had an excellent educational start in life from the way he has excelled at work, however, this is not the case. Having gone to one of the toughest schools in Malvern he can’t quite believe his luck at finding this apprenticeship with Balfour Beatty.

Where is he now? 

He is now working on the M6 at Balfour Beatty. Daniel has been an apprentice with Youthforce for 3 years now and has just completed his Level 3 Laboratory Technician apprenticeship, receiving a distinction for his hard work. Now he has come to the end we caught up with him to see how he found things:

“I’m buzzing about completing my apprenticeship, over-the-moon! I didn’t think I was going to get the distinction, especially because I didn’t think the case study in the endpoint assessment went well. But fortunately, as Balfour Beatty are so on point with Health & Safety I was able to apply it to a different type of lab environment.

Completing my apprenticeship has definitely given me more confidence. I was doubting myself at the start but now I’ve proved to myself and the rest of the team that I am up there and am a competent technician.

The support I received during my apprenticeship was 50/50 split between Youthforce and Balfour Beatty. Balfour always made sure the time was there for me to complete my apprenticeship work. My mentor, Allen, always made sure I was getting my 20% off-the-job time. He has always found the time to help me. He will always stop what he’s doing to support me and answer any questions I might have. Allen would also challenge me and make sure I was on top of my work. This is what you need sometimes. Young lads need a boost sometimes and Allen’s provided that for me. You know, sometimes I might be tired and can’t be bothered, but he’d always encourage me to crack on.

I believe a good way to get more young people involved in apprenticeships would be going to schools and colleges and speaking to groups of young 15-16-year-olds to plant the seed early. Like going to local careers fairs. It would be good to have Balfour Beatty senior management, Youthforce staff and some apprentices there to give them a full picture of what it’s like. I didn’t know this job existed before I went along to the assessment centre.

Before my apprenticeship, I worked in the staff-canteen at a large supermarket. I think that it was really encouraging during the recruitment process that Youthforce and Balfour spotted talent in me. I think if I turned up with a different attitude, I might not have got the job. I’ve come a long way as a person. When I was working at Morrisons I didn’t really care what I was doing, now I’ve got a career and I feel like I belong somewhere.

I’ve worked on a joint venture where apprentices at other companies did not always have the same experience as me. Balfour Beatty is a lot better at providing time for their apprentices to work. They also put me on block-weeks for training that was really useful. Apprenticeships in general are really good but the company being supportive is really important. It’s important that they see you as an asset to develop into the future and not just someone that can work for a low apprenticeship wage.

Balfour Beatty has helped me by giving me the time and support to do the apprenticeship. They also put me on additional courses that other more senior technicians, who’d been working for 10-15 years, were on. They treated me like more than just an apprentice.

The next step for me now is to become a senior technician. Hopefully, one day running my own lab as a lab manager. Then later down the line, I’d like to become a materials engineer. I started this out as a career, and I intend to continue that way.

My mentor has always treated me as a normal technician, Allen put as much trust in me as any other materials technician and always treated me the same. Although, I do feel I will gain more respect as a materials technician in the industry now I have completed my level 3 lab tech apprenticeship. Some other people might have looked on me as just an apprentice before.

Now, expectations will be raised, and I expect I will be doing tasks with a higher level of responsibility. In the next three years, I would like to become a senior tech on the HS2 project – the biggest project of its kind in Europe. I’d also like to help other apprentices to grow too – so hopefully, in 30 years time I’ve had a hand in developing the new teams working at Balfour. I’d really like to be involved in mentoring new apprentices. It’s good to have senior techs as mentors but it helps if the person mentoring you has done the apprenticeship or at least their level 3 NVQ like Allen, so they know what you’re going through.”




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