How an apprenticeship in 1988 developed my career: Jason Catling

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we spoke with Thurston Site Manager, Jason who told us about the value an apprenticeship added to his career and personal growth.

National Apprenticeship Week 2023 is here with its annual-week-long celebration of apprenticeships. This year’s theme is ‘skills for life’, and how different schemes can help the next generation develop the skills and knowledge to embark on a rewarding career.

Jason undertook his apprenticeship back in the 80s when he was a teenager and has never looked back. When talking to us, he reflected on the skills he has built on his journey to where he is today. The opportunities he has received would not have been as open without the apprenticeship, which he draws on throughout our chat.

With wide experience and worthy qualifications under his belt, he is an asset to the team. Read on to hear from him:

What’s your name, title and how long have you been with Denbury Homes?

I have been with the company since they relaunched as Denbury Homes (from Hopkins and Moore). Before that I worked with Hopkins Homes for 8 years. I am now a Denbury Homes Site Manager in charge of Thurston Park .

Great stuff. You seem to have had some fantastic roles in the housebuilder industry – can you talk us through what your apprenticeship led you to, career-wise?

Going back some time when I was 16 and fresh out of school, I knew this was a trade I wanted to get behind. Completing the apprenticeship led me to study for an HNC Construction Management qualification, before progressing to an honours degree programme in site management. The apprenticeship was the fundamental part that initiated the rest of my learning and development and was the catalyst that shaped my enthusiasm for construction management.

Since the apprenticeship and management courses, I have overseen sites across London and made my way up to my current role today as a Site Manager. The training schemes have also given me the opportunity to experience being a Senior Site Manager, too, on other sites.

Sounds like you’ve been busy! The apprenticeship has certainly driven many valuable experiences and possibilities. What about skills – what have you had the opportunity to learn that you wouldn’t have without the apprenticeship?

Whilst I now have a thorough understanding of buildings, materials and building techniques, the skills I have developed go beyond bricklaying. I’ve gained skills for life. In particular, my attention-to-detail skills have developed massively. I have a keen eye for detail and I am extremely good at noticing the small, but important things.

One expertise that I have developed and that has played a significant role in my growth as a manager is the ability to speak with people on different levels. When managing people, understanding others is critical which I have improved on throughout my training schemes.

As well as bricklaying, I have mastered many other crafts. During the apprenticeship, I was fortunate enough to learn all wet trades including plastering, roof tiling and scaffolding. The apprenticeship gave me excellent hands-on skills, with practical learning and exposure to a range of jobs. I have been able to work on varying construction projects, from office buildings to houses, garden walls to churches

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in an apprenticeship?

Do it!

(Laughs). I’m a little biased about the construction industry, but I have never been out of work. There is always a need for quality tradesmen, so if that is the type of industry you would like to start your career in, an apprenticeship can you take you far. Whatever the industry, though, an apprenticeship is an incredible way of opening the door to success in your chosen career.

Inspired by me, my son is nearing the completion of his apprenticeship. I wanted him to have the opportunities that I did and knew the training scheme would be an excellent pathway once he left school, where he could learn on the job and achieve recognised academic qualifications.

I would recommend anyone who is considering an apprenticeship to do so. The experimental, manual learning builds innumerable skills and invaluable experience within the construction industry, and any industry. It shapes your career!

Delivering houses of exceptional design for aspirational people

For almost 40-years Hopkins & Moore have been building homes across East Anglia. Now, we have renamed to Denbury Homes but are still setting new standards for exceptional design and customer service.