Barking Riverside is a brand new development by Bellway Homes, situated in the heart of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham beside the river Thames frontage. It was created not just for the community but also for a new environment and infrastructure for the residents.
It is a development that is over 443 acres and will include 10,800 new homes from houses to flats on the former power station site. Barking Riverside is a very high profile project and has already been recognised with two awards already this year, the ‘NHBC Pride in the Job award 2017’ and the ‘NHBC Health and Safety award 2017’.
Of the ten apprentices that have been employed by K10 to work on this project so far, Alfred Seivwright, Daniel Harper and Myles Lowe are the first of the cohort to complete their respective apprenticeships. Daniel, a plumbing apprentice, was the first of the three to get his opportunity at Barking Riverside.
Before starting at K10, Dan was unemployed after he had completed his Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing & Heating Studies at college. After struggling for work and not being given a chance to build his career as a plumber, Dan was able to apply for a position with K10 following the advice from his friends and K10 employees, Callum and Kieron.
On the other hand, Myles Lowe had already been working for K10 for the past 6 months with Hill Partnerships on the William Guy Gardens project in Tower Hamlets. Myles was also an apprentice plumber and similarly to Dan, he was not given a chance to build a career as a plumber prior to joining K10, he was even working two retail jobs whilst he searched for an apprenticeship. ‘I couldn’t find anyone to employ me as a plumber, I was going around handing in CVs but no one was hiring’ explained Myles.
Finally, on site at Barking Riverside, we had Alfred, a trainee Dry Liner. Alfred was also working two jobs, one of which was a paper round and the other was at a shirt factory for below minimum wage. ‘I had no qualifications so to finding a job that would lead into a career was hard for me. Working where I was, wasn’t ideal for me so I knew I had to look for an apprenticeship.’ Alfred participated in a 12-week traineeship at the Walthamstow Dog Track with Quadrant Construction where he eventually went on to start his apprenticeship with K10, before later transferring on to Barking Riverside.
The boys then went on to talk about their apprenticeship experiences, their favourite parts and also the college aspect. ‘Being on site was a fun experience; I liked the mental side to it as well as the physical side. Working out what had to go where and being in the real life situation where there was pressure to get the work done to the standards of the contractor we were working with.’ explained Myles. ‘As I was with two contractors throughout my apprenticeship, it was interesting to see how different site managers preferred the work to be done. Working with the other people in my team at RG Taylor also made my site experience great as well as with Dan. We were working together as a team, learning new skills but on top of these developing skills we already had.’ To which Dan followed on with ‘Just being at work, in general, was a good experience for me. Going out, learning new skills and earning money, it’s simple. As I was previously unemployed before going on to site, working, in general, was a whole new experience for me and working with Myles made it better as we were learning together.’ Alfred was placed with subcontractor TCL Drylining and loved his experience at Barking Riverside. ‘Being on site as a whole was nothing but a positive experience for me. From getting a steady income to the feeling of progression was so satisfying after completing a job. With Bellway and TCL I was given so much independence, the communication was excellent and they never took advantage of the fact that I was an apprentice.’
Throughout Dan’s apprenticeship, he was placed with RG Taylor. We asked him about his experience with them specifically and he said ‘They would ask us what we knew and what we didn’t know; this was then used to help us progress and increase our skills and knowledge further. If I didn’t know something, I felt comfortable enough to ask for help. I think that is really important for an apprentice.’
Working on site is obviously an important part of any apprenticeship. However, the college element was well received by the apprentices and all three demonstrated great commitment to the respective courses they studied. ‘College was good when it came to them providing us with tools and materials to practice with so we got a lot of practice that we could then replicate on site.’ expressed Alfred. Dan and Myles attended a different college to Alfred due to studying a different trade. ‘I had no problems with my college at all.’ Said Dan, ‘The assessors, Matt and Dan were always there if you needed advice. They created a really good balance so we were independent enough to develop our own skills but were there to advise us on how to improve our work to the best of our ability. They were really good teachers.’ Myles reinforced this by saying ‘the assessors were there when you needed them to be, and this was a huge help towards us getting our work done. They made sure the quality was as high as if it was their own work.’
Apprenticeships can take time and effort to complete and it does require a good amount of motivation, dedication, and hard work. We asked Dan, Myles and Alfred if they had any advice for someone like themselves who was looking to get into an apprenticeship. ‘Timing, just be on time and turn up on the days you’re meant to and it will be smooth sailing from there.’ Said Myles to which Alfred followed with ‘get your tools at the start; ask what it is you’re going to need so you don’t have to be waiting around for them to arrive when you need them.’ And Dan finished with ‘concentrate and get the work done properly the first time round so you’re not going back and wasting time fixing it.’
K10’s Senior Apprenticeship Manager, Jack Speckman, managed all three of the apprentices from the time they started, all the way through to end. It was something that the boys appreciated. ‘Jack was there if we needed advice or had any issues, he worked hard to make sure that any problems were sorted quickly and we really appreciate it as we know we’re not his only apprentices. K10 have given me a kick start to my plumbing career and I wouldn’t be here without them’ said Dan. Myles went on to say ‘the tool allowance they provided us with massively helped as it meant that we could buy tools to aid us on site and further our skills.’ ‘K10 have opened doors for me that will help me have a better future, I have more career prospects now, and even within myself, I have a lot of confidence.’ said Alfred.
Since completing their apprenticeships, Dan and Myles have been taken on direct by RG Taylor as qualified plumbers earning a starting wage of £65 a day whilst they continue their studies direct with the subcontractor to earn their gas safety qualifications. Alfred has also started working in the City as a qualified Dry Liner with K&B Ceilings.
Stewart Finn, Barking Riverside’s senior site manager, has been a key figure in helping K10 place apprentices on site. When asked about the ‘Bellway Boys’ completion, Stewart stated that ‘Bellway has always encouraged trainees, we are fully committed to supporting anyone who wants to further their career in construction. It’s been a pleasure having all the K10 apprentices on site at Barking Riverside. In particular, Alfred, Dan, and Myles have shown great enthusiasm for their respective trades, the attitude towards their work was outstanding. We wish them all the best for the future, I’m sure they’ll all go on to be very successful tradesmen.’
K10 would like to thank Bellway and their sub-contractors for the help and assistance they’ve provided the apprentices at Barking Riverside. We hope to see Alfred, Dan and Myles looking after their own apprentices in the very near future!