9th February 2024

National Apprenticeship Week with Rebecca Pardue

Introducing Rebecca Pardue, Trainee Quantity Surveyor at Hexham General Hospital.

To mark this year’s National Apprenticeship Week, we sat down with Rebecca to discuss her experience as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor at Sir Robert McAlpine.

For the past six months, Rebecca Pardue has spent her apprenticeship onsite at Hexham General Hospital's refurbishment project, part of the government’s ProCure Framework. The project is being delivered by Integrated Health Projects (IHP), a joint venture between VINCI Building and Sir Robert McAlpine. 

“There’s some packages in healthcare that you wouldn’t get in a commercial job – things like endoscope washers – which I enjoy, because it’s different and a chance to learn more.”

This variety is part and parcel of everyday life for Rebecca onsite at Hexham: “Sometimes I’ll get to work and it’s completely different to the day I planned – but that’s what I love about the job.”

As a trainee quantity surveyor, Rebecca receives tenders from subcontractors and works out which tender will bring the best value to the project, and from there manages the subcontractor through the process of their work package.

The responsibilities and exposure in her role have equipped Rebecca with a range of #SkillsForLife – this year’s theme for National Apprenticeship Week – such as confidence, problem solving and teamwork. It’s also provided her with opportunities she wouldn’t have had otherwise, such as the chance to take part in industry engagement talks at schools.

“I know Sir Robert McAlpine is quite big on social value, and part of that is making sure that people are comfortable coming into construction, especially women and school-aged children. I think it’s important that they are given the opportunity to understand what the options are in the industry.”

It’s a cause close to home because Rebecca herself discovered construction on a placement during her A-levels.

It’s a bit of a strange one. I did art, maths, English literature, and business A-levels and when I first picked them, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do. But during that time I did a placement on a project called the Spanish City in Whitley Bay where I was shadowing a quantity surveyor. I absolutely loved it – how busy it was, and seeing the building progress.

Rebecca Pardue

Rebecca Pardue, Trainee Quantity Surveyor at Sir Robert McAlpine

Having caught the bug, Rebecca turned to PlanBEE, a course first launched in the Northeast (but now run in Manchester and London too), sponsored by Sir Robert McAlpine. Over six placements, attendees get to experience a variety of roles in the construction industry, “and in the end, Sir Robert McAlpine gave me a job as a trainee, and are putting me through my degree as well.”

What would Rebecca say to anyone considering a similar route into the industry? The answer is unequivocal: “Go for it. There's just so much benefit to doing an apprenticeship. All the skills, the experience, things that you wouldn't learn if you go full time at university, like the connections I've made networking.”

Rebecca is not only taking the apprenticeship course in an accelerated 3 rather than 5 years, she is doing so to acclaim: last May, she was shortlisted as trainee of the year for the G4C North East Awards.

“A lot of it was to do with how you incorporate sustainability within your job role, which is a really important aspect of construction. For quantity surveying it can be quite difficult to incorporate sustainability because we're not actually hands on in a job or construction project, but there are definitely steps and ways that surveyors can be sustainable, and I think these are important considerations to take on.”

In another couple of years, Rebecca hopes to be chartered, and the pace of progression is not lost on her – “especially with everyone being so supportive and giving me time to study as well.”

But it’s certainly not all work and no play: “I’ve got an apprentice team building exercise coming up soon, which is a three-day retreat in the Lake District.”

With such evident enthusiasm for her apprenticeship experience, it’s hard to believe Rebecca could identify highlights or have a favourite thing about her training so far. But she manages.

“As I have grown and learnt more within my role, I think taking on one of the bigger packages was a highlight. Obviously, I did get support throughout, but it was a bigger package than what I’m used to and a chance to see how I’ve evolved throughout the apprenticeship.”

“But the whole company, every team that I’ve worked in, has just been so supportive and I think that’s probably my favourite thing because I know it can be a bit worrying for some people coming in as a younger person in the industry.”

And it’s working. Rebecca is confident and enthusiastic as she looks ahead: “I want to go as far as possible in my career – just reach for the stars.”

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