A Lamb Associates Limited

Degree Apprenticeship Blog: Reflecting on my first year with ALA

Dan Ashton

Dan Ashton – Apprentice Quantity Surveyor

Degree Apprenticeship Blog: Reflecting on my first year at ALA

 Dan has now completed his first year of the Degree Apprenticeship programme. He joined us in 2019 as part of a new scheme that ALA launched to encourage more people into Quantity Surveying roles.

During this time, Dan has worked on a variety of projects and gained practical, hands on experience and an in depth understanding of what is involved in becoming a Quantity Surveyor.


One year down, four more to go!

I’ve now completed my first year at University, and have passed all of my modules! This year has been thoroughly enjoyable as well as being challenging at times, but I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone.

Balancing a full-time job alongside my course has been difficult. Thankfully ALA has given me the time that I needed to complete all of my work and have helped me where they can. Whether it be with completing my first ever take-off, or with my final technical drawing submission, I’ve had access to support and can always ask my colleagues questions when I get stuck.

I’ve worked on a variety of different projects which has also massively helped and complimented my studies. It has allowed me to develop a greater understanding of exactly what I need to know. The first-hand knowledge allows me to better understand what I’m learning during lectures – I feel that I really understand the role and whats involved in becoming a quantity surveyor.

Having now finished my first year, I would highly recommend a degree level apprenticeship as a route to higher study. I’ve been provided with so many more opportunities to learn than I would otherwise have had if I studied full time. I can highly recommend the course at UCLAN for anyone looking to become a Quantity Surveyor. I can’t wait to start my second year in September 2020.


Working on different projects

I’ve worked on several different projects that ALA has been involved in.

In February, I was part of a team carrying out a Commercial Audit for a client at an Energy from Waste plant in Surrey. The total value of those works were around £17m, a mind-blowing amount!

My role in this involved visiting site multiple times. It was really interesting to see how each section of the plant worked. The client had to show us around the site so that we had an understanding of what we were auditing. Exploring how an energy from waste plant works was really interesting.

I was able to use the notes that I had made during these site visits to contribute towards the final narrative submission, as well as performing an in-depth analysis of all information that was requested. It was my first time working in this way and the experience has been invaluable in learning how to write a report to an adjudication standard. It was good to work at a client’s office and meet new people, it was also useful to see a different side to traditional quantity surveying work.

After this, I was asked to return to a client that I had previously worked with. It was great to be asked back, and I feel that I was able to demonstrate everything that I had learned since working with them before. I was responsible for cost analysis and submitting variations, as well as creating payment remittances for subcontractors. This was only for a short time, but it was great to have the responsibility for this. I feel that the work I was involved in made a difference and helped the client out.

I returned from working with the client and was quickly put on another job working with another client. This job was completely different again, working on a major water pipeline project in the north of England.

ALA had been tasked with preparing a quantum analysis and also an analysis of the chronology to highlight progress.

My role in the team was to review all of the aerial photography showing the progress of the project. It was a learning curve as I had to understand the topographical areas shown, and then pull this together to provide an expert analysis of the true value of the works. I had never worked on a pipeline project before, but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and the complexity of the work.

My favourite bit was being involved in the cost analysis and forming the substantiation behind the costs provided. It was totally new to me working with contract clauses and CECA rates so closely. I feel that I’ve learned a lot about how NEC contracts are structured and amended to suit the types of work being carried out.

Working during the COVID pandemic

I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to continue working during this challenging time – I realise that many people haven’t been able to do so, so I feel very fortunate.

It has been challenging at times, especially at the beginning. Working from home was a massive change from what I had become used to. Completing the final parts of my university work were difficult too, but I managed to get there in the end. It’s hard to adapt to not seeing your lecturers and other students, as well as not being able to go to the library – but I did have access to a digital library which was a massive help!

The hardest part was completing my technical drawings for an assignment without a drawing board, but I improvised with using masking tape on a table to secure the paper.

I made sure to create a space at home where I could work and not get distracted, and after a week or two it become the new norm – I’ve actually learned to enjoy it.


What I’m looking forward to

I’m really looking forward to starting my second year in September 2020. I understand that we will be attending university remotely, with lectures and information being delivered online.

ALA has been really good at keeping in touch with us whilst the offices have been closed. We’ve been able to make use of technology to continue working with each other and our clients. We’ve had regular video calls and phone calls, and keep in touch with each other via Microsoft Teams or Whatsapp; it’s been a good solution. I am looking forward to returning to the office though, when we can, as I really enjoy working face to face with my colleagues.

There is an opportunity for me to work abroad on a short-term contract with a client that ALA has been working with recently. I’m really looking forward to this as it will be another completely new experience in a different environment.


Becoming a Quantity Surveyor

I’m really pleased that I chose to study Quantity Surveying with a degree apprenticeship. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned during the last year. If you’re looking for a solid career with great potential to travel, learn and try new things then I really recommend this route.


Interested in a Degree Apprenticeship?

The feedback we’ve received upon launching this scheme has been overwhelmingly positive. Due to the COVID pandemic, we have unfortunately decided against opening the scheme for a second intake in September 2020. We are however considering launching again with an intake in September 2021.

  • Are you a candidate with A-Level or equivalent qualifications, interested in a highly rewarding career, offering training and development?
  • Are you a school or college interested in partnering with us?

We’d love to hear from you – get in touch via email; careers@alambassociates.com

Keep up to date with how the Degree Apprenticeship Scheme is going, along with all other company news and updates by following us on LinkedIn.