11 Feb

Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week

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Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week

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Apprenticeships are evolving fast, and so are attitudes towards them. Increasingly, starting an apprenticeship is viewed by both school leavers and employers as an equal alternative to going to university. More and more young people are embracing the insights they can offer and taking up the opportunity to get paid while developing their skills and careers. To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we turn the spotlight on a couple of apprentices working on our development, to find out why they chose this route, how they found their role and how it’s helping them achieve their goals. 

Harry Wall, Construction Groundworker apprentice 

Harry, 22, is a Groundworker apprentice at our contractor Galldris, who are building lots of the infrastructure for the new town centre. Harry grew up locally in Canada Water and landed the apprentice job with Galldris after attending a free training course at Southwark Construction Skills Centre. He comes from a long line of builders, and he knew he wanted to get into the construction sector from an early age. To get started, he enrolled on a free course at Southwark Construction Skills Centre to get his CSCS card (the training and qualifications required to access jobs on a construction site) and find a job as part of the development.

Why did you apply for an apprenticeship?

“Traditional education wasn’t for me – I didn’t really like school. I knew I wanted to get into construction because it’s in the family. My grandad was in construction, as is my uncle. I applied to train at the Southwark Construction Skills Centre in Canada Water. That prepared me with the skills, both in the classroom and hands-on, to prepare me for a building site. I completed the free course and got my Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. I was then referred by the Skills Centre to Galldris, who are working on the Canada Water development and were recruiting. I went through their selection process and after a 2-week work trial they offered me an apprenticeship.

“As an apprentice, I have exposure to so many different elements of the build process, which means I access training and learn more. It’s the benefit of an apprenticeship scheme.”

What have you learnt and what do you enjoy?

“Every day is different. Some days I’m laying pipes, others I am laying block paving or undertaking other general groundwork. My favourite part of the job is laying and finishing concrete floors. I’m excited to see the finished product. I live round the corner – so I’ll be using the local shops, bars and restaurants in the new town centre, knowing that I had a role to play in building it!”

What’s next?
“I’ll finish my apprenticeship then see where it takes me. My uncle is a Construction Manager now, so that is one route, but I may be like my grandad who didn’t like management so progressed from a labourer to a supervisor because he didn’t want to sit behind a desk. Let’s see.”


In the next four years, we expect there to be around a hundred construction jobs and apprenticeships on the Canada Water Development, with many more as part of future phases of construction. 

For more information about training, apprenticeship and job opportunities, you can contact the Southwark Construction Skills Centre, which acts as a hub for information, training and advice for local residents interested in construction, as well as a centre for training provision for those already in work. Many courses, such as the pre-employment training course that Harry attended, are free for Southwark residents not currently in work or earning less than £16k per year. You can also sign up to our mailing list to get updates on job and training opportunities with our contractors. 


Gafar Fashola, apprentice in British Land’s Canada Water project team 

Gafar is an apprentice at British Land. Born in Nigeria, he moved to south London in 2005. After leaving college in 2017, he entered the property industry as a sales negotiator but was keen to expand his knowledge about property development and regeneration around London. So, he took up an apprenticeship at British Land. 

Why did you apply for an apprenticeship?

“I looked at my options and decided university wasn’t the right route for me. I started a job as a sales negotiator in the property sector in Canary Wharf and then moved to Nine Elms. I was exposed to many aspects of the property industry, and this was my first introduction to the planning process. My career was going well but I knew that to realise my ambitions of working in development and creating new places for people to live, work and enjoy a robust lifestyle, I needed qualifications and experience. So, I became an apprentice at British Land who offered me the opportunity to do my Level 3 in Business Administration, and I’m currently completing my Level 4 in Project Management.”


What have you learnt and what do you enjoy?

“There are so many different areas within property that people aren’t necessarily aware of. I’ve worked in community engagement, investment, and had the pleasure of undertaking and managing projects of my own. I have also been able to champion the integration and career development of junior colleagues within British Land as the founder and co-chair of our Next Gen network, and I’ve joined the British Property Foundation Federation Advisory Board. In addition to these I have had the opportunity to mentor young people at the Construction Youth Trust, one of British Land’s partners in Canada Water, that helps make students in Southwark aware of the opportunities within the construction sector. It’s hugely rewarding as I’m sharing what I know, whilst I still have so much scope to grow.”


What’s next? 

“I hope to continue working within British Land and be part of Canada Water’s future. With a growing interest in placemaking because of my involvement in the masterplan, I look forward to applying these to future projects and making a tangible difference to communities I help build here and in my home country of Nigeria.”

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