We sat down with Jake Martin and Molly Aston, two team members currently undertaking apprenticeships at Mecalac, to discuss their roles and why they think accelerating recruitment and closing the skills gap is so important for the future of the construction industry.
Q – Jake, Molly, could you both explain your roles at Mecalac?
JM – I’m a Level 3 IT Technician apprentice working on service delivery and managing file servers. The course I’m undertaking is for 16-months, alongside external online training.
MA – I’m a Level 3 HR Administrator apprentice on an 18-month course. I work in a team of three, where I oversee attendance and recruitment, while also supporting with the design of the new apprenticeship programme.
Q – Why did you choose an apprenticeship over other career paths?
JM – When considering my options, it became apparent that on-the-job experience was critical for my career. Following conversations with a number of people, I decided that an apprenticeship would enable me to gain real-world learning opportunities, alongside an academic qualification.
MA – Prior to choosing an apprenticeship, I’d actually undertaken my first year of university. However, I didn’t feel like it was the right environment for me to maximise my learning. HR is a people orientated role, so I felt that an apprenticeship would provide me with invaluable experience in comparison to a theory-based qualification.
Q: What does your day-to-day look like?
MA – One of my key tasks is to support recruitment across the business. This sees me spend time across our recruitment portals, assessing applications and identifying key candidates before sharing these with the relevant parties across departments. I’m also tasked with coordinating the interview process on behalf of the hiring manager.
JM – My role is extremely varied and doesn’t require me to be stuck behind a computer. Alongside undertaking daily back-ups of the file servers and completing system entries, I’m responsible for processing new starters and leavers. This requires regular communication with head office to create user accounts, as well as coordinating laptops, mobiles and offering initial IT support.
In addition, the role also includes supporting the production team with their technical needs, which is not only great experience from an IT perspective, but also provides wider insight into other areas of the business.
Q: Why did you choose to undertake your apprenticeship at Mecalac?
MA – I’ve always known that I wanted to work in a HR-based role so, thankfully, I was able to identify the right programmes and opportunities for me from the start of my search. Working in the construction industry was not something I’d necessarily considered before but, looking back, it’s the best decision I’ve made. During the interview process, the team were welcoming and I instantly felt at home.
JM – When considering an apprenticeship, I came across the opportunity online and knew it wasn’t something I could easily pass up. Initially, my focus was on securing a business administration or accountancy apprenticeship, however, following conversations with the HR department at Mecalac, the team recommended looking into IT. So, I interviewed for the Level 3 apprenticeship at Mecalac, and the rest is history!
Q: How have you found your apprenticeship so far?
JM – It’s been great! Joining straight from school, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’ve found it so rewarding. The course is self-led, so you’re responsible for your own success and it’s very much what you make of the opportunities in front of you.
The team at Mecalac were incredibly supportive from the start. I’ve never felt like someone new or at the beginning of their career. But, I also know that if I do have any questions, all members of the team would support me with anything I need. I feel really fortunate to work in such a positive environment.
MA – Amazing! The team are incredibly supportive and the varied nature of the role enables me to explore the wider business. I’m only two and a half months into my apprenticeship, but I can honestly say that it’s the best decision I could have made for my career.
Since starting at Mecalac, I’ve definitely become a huge advocate for apprenticeships and my experience is a great example of how finding the right apprenticeship for you can kickstart your career!
After completing the programme, a high percentage of Mecalac apprentices choose to join the business full-time. As such, it continues to prove a valuable initiative to welcome the next generation of talent into the firm, as well as to inspire school leavers to consider a role in STEM.