I have recently started my 18-month quantity surveying placement at A. Lamb Associates after completing my level five content at the University of Salford, on the accelerated quantity surveying course. This means that I do an extra trimester of lectures over the summer term resulting in my course taking a total of two years instead of three.
Originally, I had tried to get on the apprenticeship scheme’s second intake here at ALA in 2020, which unfortunately didn’t open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was this that encouraged me to find alternative ways to study that would allow me to get into industry and earning as soon as possible, leading me to find the accelerated course offered at Salford.
Why Quantity Surveying?
I decided to pursue quantity surveying as a career after speaking with Dan Ashton, who was on the first year of his degree apprenticeship with ALA at the time. I spoke with him when he came to speak at an apprenticeship event at my school (QES in Kirkby Lonsdale) with Byron Tyson and Dan Harrison.
It was after this that I investigated quantity surveying further as a potential career and decided that it suited my skillset and was something that I could see myself doing and enjoying in the future.
My Initial Experience at ALA
In my first month I have been doing the groundwork for a potential disruption claim on a building project in the Lake District. This has involved keeping detailed site records of the impact of current variation works. I have also been analysing site records to determine whether there are any earlier variations that may have been overlooked or which may have had a disruptive impact on progress. Essentially, this will ensure that the main contractor does not bear the extra cost of any additional work added to the project and receives the proper amount due. I see this as an important role in assisting our client make this project a profitable one.
My experience so far has been really beneficial. It has given me on-site experience, as well as allowing me to expand my knowledge of construction works. This is also going to give me invaluable experience in claims as it allows me to see first-hand how a claim is put together from the initial stages.
I have mainly been working between the site in the Lake District and out of the Head Office in Cumbria, where everyone has been very helpful and welcoming. However, I have also had the opportunity to travel down to the Warrington office for the Apprenticeship Support Group. This is a quarterly meet of all the apprentices, headed by ALA’s Director of People Karen Turlay-Rose. The purpose is to go over what work the junior staff have been doing, as well as ensuring that no one is being overworked and is being left with plenty of time to do their university work. The group also ensures that everyone is of good mental and physical health.
This was a very encouraging experience as it not only gave me an insight into what type of work other employees around my age are doing but also how ALA really cares about us as people and not just what work we can produce. This also gave me the pleasure of meeting more of ALA’s employees. Everyone was very kind and welcoming, and I was able to hear a bit about the work that they are doing for the company.
The Benefits of a Sandwich Year
Personally, I think that anyone in the process of doing a full-time degree should seriously consider securing themselves an industrial placement year. Not only does it provide you with invaluable experience and practical knowledge, but it also highlights gaps in your knowledge for you to work on and shows you which areas are more important to focus on at university. For me it has been the importance of contracts and law, as although I knew they were a big part of quantity surveying, I was not aware of the extent of their impact on every aspect of the project beyond the tendering and design stages, alongside enforcing contractual obligations and ensuring parties uphold their side of the agreement.
Also, everything learnt inside the placement year can be massively beneficial to the final year modules, which also carry the highest weighting in your final grade. This is because you will have had a deeper insight into the content you are studying which likely be more valuable to you then what you are taught in your lectures, however it will still prove useful to look at certain situations theoretically in an environment dedicated to learning.
Overall, I am really enjoying my quantity surveying placement so far and having the opportunity to learn while working is brilliant. I also appreciate having the chance to learn from individuals who specialise in various areas within the industry, meaning I will never be stuck for someone to turn to if I am struggling. I would highly recommend completing a placement year to anyone currently studying at university, whether in quantity surveying or other sectors of the construction industry.
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