Quantity Surveying graduate Lucy Williams’ journey to date has been far from normal. Having attended five different schools, she couldn’t wait to exchange her uniform and pencil case for a hard hat and saw, and enrolled on to a multi-skills qualification in bricklaying, plastering and carpentry.
Lucy now works for Arcadis as the UK Regional Sector Manager for Infrastructure — here’s her story.
"It isn’t until now that I realise how diverse my educational background was. I attended five schools — catholic, state, private, single-sex and mixed — two colleges, a City & Guilds approved training facility and two universities, one in Wales and the other in China.
If I’m brutally honest, I wasn’t particularly interested in school; I suffer from Dyslexia, so had problems concentrating on subjects that didn’t capture my imagination. Like many, I much preferred being outside doing sports and socialising rather than being confined to a classroom, however I was strong academically and felt pressured to go down the “traditional” route — GCSEs, followed by A Levels and University — when all I really wanted to do was work.
After completing my GCSEs, and having a brief encounter with AS Levels at a local college, I decided to follow my passion, go against the grain and be a little different.
I enrolled on a multi-skills qualification in bricklaying, plastering and carpentry to gain a better understanding of the processes involved in construction projects. Instead of the smell of sawn timber, the rumble of mixers and countless blisters (from carrying bricks) scaring me off, I realised that this was absolutely the right career for me.
I secured a job working for a house builder while studying for a BTEC certificate in construction at Coleg Gwent, which could be considered as a modern-day apprentice scheme. This approach helped develop both my technical and practical understanding of the industry, captured my imagination and kept me focussed.
It was a challenging time: the recession had hit, construction had slowed and house prices nosedived. Countless professionals were being made redundant and, in many cases, leaving the construction industry all together — it was difficult not to feel the desperation of others.
Despite the difficulties, and the temptation of full-time employment, my employer encouraged me to further my education at the University of South Wales, where they supported me to complete a part-time degree in quantity surveying.
It wasn’t until my final year at university that the industry showed clear signs of recovery and moral began to grow. This “break in the stormy sky” allowed us to finally see a clearer and brighter future for us all.
My final year was hugely rewarding:
I truly believe that the skills and experience gained during my early years in the industry, working and studying at the same time, provided a great foundation to build on for the future.
Quite frankly, whether you want to travel, work on-site, work in an office or even use drones on a daily basis, there is a career for you within land, property and construction.”