Barry’s pipe dream was to be a car mechanic. Having completed his entry level qualifications it soon became apparent that finding a job or apprenticeship in this trade was going to be very challenging. Barry broadened his job search to pretty much anything. He applied for 50 + jobs, attended numerous pre-employment courses where he achieved plentiful certificates, completed several unpaid trial work placements and yet remained unemployed for 18 months, claiming JSA for 12 of these.
Barry had not previously considered working in construction until his cousin suggested it, having started an apprenticeship himself with K10. Following Barry’s attendance at a K10 Academy workshop he was offered a place on their bespoke pre-employment course which was designed in partnership with contractors to ensure training met with the skills gaps that existed on site.
“The K10 pre-employment course was brilliant. I had never worked in construction before, so it gave me the chance to get my hands dirty and get a glimpse at what it might be like working on site. Everyone on the course wanted to be a plumber or electrician. I’ve always liked being outside and like a bit of graft, so decided to opt for the Construction Operative apprenticeship. I also thought the trade would offer job security because they are the first trade on site and a pretty structured career path with the opportunity to advance quite quickly.”
Barry O’Brien, Apprentice Construction Operative, K10
As a NAS accredited ATA, K10 employed Barry and he has since been hosted by ground works contractor Landmark on Berkeley Homes Phase 2, Block E Woodberry Down, and with Coinfords on KSS3.
Barry says that it’s a really good learning experience to work for different contractors as it promotes and teaches the importance of being flexible in your approach within the workplace and different ways of doing different aspects of the job.
Barry has 2 young children and they have been an inspiration to work hard and make the most of this opportunity. Barry recognised from day one, that everyone he was working with could be a mentor. “Everyone on site has more experience or something that I can learn from them. Whenever I start working with a new team I say – I’m going to ask a ridiculous amount of questions, I hope it doesn’t annoy you, I just want to soak up as much knowledge as possible!” Barry talks about how much his confidence has increased since starting his apprenticeship and how some of the people he has worked with have really inspired his drive to be ambitious. He wants to work his way up to be a ‘black hat’ (Site Foreman).
Barry has lived in Hackney for 13 years and feels proud to be part of regenerating an area that was so run down. “I think the partnership between Berkeley Homes, their contractors and K10 is really impactful. They are genuinely passionate about providing opportunities for local people. I have had some personal problems and really needed support and some time off work. Everyone has been really understanding and supportive when I most needed it. In return I won’t let them down.”
Coinfords have offered Barry a full time job when he completes his NVQ L2 in Construction Operatives. The owner of Coinfords even made the effort to find Barry onsite and welcome him to the team.