Since training with Cyfle Building Skills award-winning apprentice and Construction Ambassador Lynsey Davies, 37, has had a colourful construction journey. Lynsey has gained a NVQ in plastering, managed the construction of a maternity ward project in Uganda and worked alongside a team of plasterers refurbishing a Children’s Centre in Swansea for BBC’s “DIY SOS” programme. Here Lynsey, a mum of two who recently won the FMB Wales Apprentice of the Year award 2019, explains how her construction career began.
At school nobody mentioned construction. It was never an option. It was always: ‘Go into nursing or teaching or drama’ never building.
When I was growing up my uncle Leighton was a big inspiration. He was in the building trade. He used to visit our house and do work on a Saturday. I used to mix the cement and carry the bricks for him. I loved it. I’ve always been around that kind of environment.
I started construction training in September 2015. Before that I had a variety of jobs in retail, banking and healthcare. Working with young people, elderly and mental health, but those jobs didn’t really drive me.
Before I began my construction training I was working full-time, with two children and a mortgage. I couldn’t just start again in a new career which meant it was difficult to get into construction.
I actually started a course in Level One plastering while I was on maternity leave. I was pregnant when I began it. I panicked a bit because I thought: “When my maternity ends I’ve got to go back to work, how am I still going to go to college?”
That’s when Cyfle came in. I left my job and Cyfle took me on for my second year NVQ Level 2 in plastering.
I stayed with Cyfle and had work placements which were really important for me. I needed to experience the variety in construction to see what I could do.
One of my placements was in Africa, in the Ugandan village of Kachumbala.
I went to Africa with Cyfle apprentices to learn my trade on the construction of a maternity ward. We supported the local workforce and shared our skills. They do things a lot differently in Uganda. For example it was amazing to see how they worked with limited materials.
The work was daunting at times. It’s not like here in Britain where you can order materials quickly. There were a number of challenges. We had to overcome the language barrier and the hours were long. We set off for work at half seven in the morning and got back at six. I was there for two weeks. It was hard at times but a very good experience.
Cyfle have been like family, they’ve brought out the best in me and been a great support network. Once Cyfle see potential in someone they will invest in them. I’ve won so many awards with them. I never thought I’d do anything like that. I’m going to miss them when I move on.
At Cyfle I gained an NVQ Level 2 in plastering and a BTEC Level 3 in construction and built environment. My next course will be in Quantity Surveying. I’d like to take a management route now. I hope to work at Swansea Council – spend one day in Uni, four days on site. Earn as you learn.
Ultimately I’d like to get a degree in Quanity Surveying. I want to prove to myself that I can get to that level.
I’ve spoken at a few colleges about construction careers. I trained as an Ambassador through CITB Wales funding. If I can encourage others and be a role model that would be great.
For those considering changing career and moving into construction I’d say contact your local college to see if there are any evening courses. They’ll know about traineeships and companies that can help. In my view apprenticeships are the way forward. CITB can offer you advice if you’re thinking of an apprenticeship.
I’m very grateful to everyone who has helped with my construction training. It’s a journey I will treasure.
Lynsey took part in CITB’s mentoring for life course which aims to help new entrants stay in construction with the help of those who are more experienced. For more information click here.
Queen’s award winning Cyfle Building Skills Ltd is an innovative Shared Apprenticeship Scheme supported by CITB. For more information please click here.