Case study: Apprentice of the year 2019, Lynsey Davies
Lynsey Davies is one of our most inspiring examples of an apprentice. A mum of two when she started as an apprentice, she has won several awards during her time with us and now works for Swansea Council while also studying towards securing a BS Hons in Quantity Surveying.
Originally from Treboeth but now living in Winchwen, Lynsey studied with us between September 2016 and July 2019. She is an inspiration for anyone considering studying as an apprentice and has gone on to achieve great success since she first started with us.
Lynsey was the well-deserved winner of the Apprentice of the Year Award 2019 in both the Welsh and regional Master Builder Awards. She now works at Swansea Council as a trainee Quantity Surveyor. As part of her traineeship, she attends Swansea University one day a week and is studying towards a BS Hons in Quantity Surveying.
Lynsey had been in employment for several years when she started her apprenticeship at the age of 33. Though Lynsey had had a passion for construction from an early age, she had never ventured into working in the industry, and had pursued a varied employment history prior to her apprenticeship.
Her previous jobs included working at McDonald’s as a floor manager, a customer representative at Nationwide Building Society, a manager with Birthdays Group, and as a support worker and care worker for Family Housing and Castle Care Homes respectively.
Lynsey explained: “My previous jobs had been varied due to me being unsure of what I wanted to do. I was never satisfied in my previous jobs and, though I made some amazing friends along the way, after a few years I would move onto something else.”
Lynsey was considering setting up her own business as a plasterer after having enrolled on a part-time Level 1 plastering course.
However, due to limited numbers, she found there were no evening classes available for her to attend to further her knowledge and skills. Lynsey was pregnant with her second child at the time and identified an opportunity to attend college while she was on maternity leave.
When Lynsey commenced attendance of the two-day a week course at Neath College, she was heavily pregnant with only six weeks to go before her due date.
Speaking about her apprehension when starting at Neath College, Lynsey said: “It was very daunting walking into college that morning, I remember seeing 16-year-old boys everywhere I looked – and me with this bump – but I was determined to do it as this was the only opportunity I had financially to do this.
“I only missed a month of college when I gave birth, so did not have too much to catch up on. It was so hard leaving my new baby, but this meant everything to me, and I had to think of the long-time prospects.”
Towards the end of the course, the students had to start thinking about applying for apprenticeships, but Lynsey didn’t consider that this was going to be an option for her, due to her age at the time. She resigned herself to the thought that she was going to have to return to her job as a support worker. However, this was not the case, as she explains.
“We were informed that Cyfle building skills were coming in to talk about apprenticeships and I was not expecting to hear that age was not a problem. During the talk I remember feeling so happy that I was going to be able to continue my new career, as they were paid apprenticeships, and that they would find us placements for us to train. This was my big break!
“I have always worked hard and done well in all my jobs by being promoted and taken back on twice after leaving two companies, but it was not enough. I needed to feel passionate about my work, and construction has certainly done that for me. I knew that this was what I needed to do to be happy and there has not been a single day that I have regretted my decision.”
Lynsey started as a trade apprentice with Cyfle and then continued onto the technical route completing her Level 3 in construction and the built environment. She is now a trainee Quantity Surveyor/Estimator with Swansea Council Building Services Department and has already been involved in a wide cross section of projects from Welsh Quality Standard schemes (WHQS) to New-Build Developments with Passivhaus designs.
This traineeship and degree course is part of a Higher Apprenticeship, funded by CIOB, which will see her complete a Level 5 Project Management module run by Quals Direct. She is currently in the second year of the course, at HND level, after successfully completing the HNC, and will continue onto the degree programme for a further two years.
The apprenticeship experience has been a valuable springboard to a highly promising career, and Lynsey is very grateful for the help she received from us, here at Cyfle, as well as the skills she has learned along the way, as she explained:
“I am so grateful for the apprenticeships; they are the way forward, because you get the experience and training needed for your chosen career – and you get paid. I could not have imagined walking onto a construction site as a quantity surveyor, not previously having any idea of how a house is built or any understanding of materials and measuring. But by completing an apprenticeship you will gain the confidence and knowledge needed to carry out these jobs successfully.
“From working on construction sites, I have also gained an excellent understanding of Health & Safety and risk management, which has helped me appreciate the importance of good communication, to positively interact and collaborate with others, and provide a safe and efficient working environment.
“Working on site has enabled me to work to my own initiative by having to make important decisions which has built my confidence greatly. This has enabled me to successfully secure a job with Swansea Council.”
Lynsey added: “At the age of 39, I have achieved more in the last five years than I have in my entire working life. I have won competitions – student of the year for NPTC Group, apprentice of the year for plastering and technical – I have been a student rep, made TV appearance on BBC Wales talking about apprenticeships, taken part in DIY SOS, and my biggest achievement was going to Uganda for two weeks with Cyfle to take part in a charity scheme where we built a maternity unit. It’s not every day you get opportunities like that!
“My placements have all resulted in job opportunities, but due to me needing to experience what path was best for me, I continued to change my placements to gain further knowledge. My placements were NPT homes as a plastering apprentice, where I also won apprentice of the year with the company, Dawnus as trainee site manager and now Swansea council as a trainee QS.
“Cyfle always encouraged and promoted me and took me to award ceremonies to help me meet people in the industry. I attended the Royal Princess Awards in London where Cyfle was presented with an award for its contribution to apprenticeships. I am forever grateful to Anthony and his wonderful Cyfle family, they are the nicest, most helpful, supportive, and genuine people I have ever met, and they will always hold a special place in my heart – gosh getting emotional here – I miss them so much.”
“I cannot praise Cyfle enough for their amazing efforts and the training opportunities they provide. They go that extra mile for every single person and give people the best opportunities, providing you show commitment and put in the effort. They will always strive to do the best for every apprentice to ensure they are successful. They have seen me at my best, and worst. Being a mum of two busy boys, I really felt the strain sometimes, but cyfle were always there to help and support me to ensure I did not give up and allowed me time to get back on my feet when times were hard.
“I am also so lucky to have an amazing partner and family who have supported me throughout my journey. I will be forever grateful, as I couldn’t have done this without them.”
Lynsey’s success means that she now gets approached by friends asking for career advice for their children. She helps with as much advice as she can for anyone looking to enter a career in a construction environment, and continues to praise apprenticeships because, as she says: “You cannot beat hands on experience.”
We’re sure Lynsey has an extremely exciting and successful career ahead of her, and we wish her the very best of luck!