On Friday 16 October, we hosted our management trainee of the year awards for 2019. Originally planned for March, and then delayed for six months in the hope of being able to host as a live event, the ceremony took place virtually. The event recognised valuable contributions from our management trainees, with one of the awards up for grabs being ‘Scape Trainee of the Year’. Won by Jack Hall in our North business, Jack shares his journey into construction and his rise to award success.

An education crossroads

Jack’s journey into construction started after completion of his A Levels, where he faced a crossroads, to enter employment or to pursue higher education. Choosing the former Jack explains “Like many young people, I was guided towards a University-only route, but I wasn’t sure if this was really the path I wanted to follow. Reluctantly, I applied for Business Management courses on completion of my A-Levels, but was not certain this was the right path for me to take. While receiving a range of academic offers, I noticed an advertisement for an apprentice building manager on the flagship Oldham Leisure Centre, and applied.”

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In 2014 Jack joined the construction industry, working as an apprentice on our Oldham Leisure Centre project

Delivered in October 2015 through the Scape National Major Works framework, Oldham Leisure Centre proved to be an excellent first step into the construction industry for Jack. “I arrived with minimal construction knowledge and limited experience of interacting with senior professionals or time-served operatives. Being placed on a complex project at the start of the programme with a patient team enabled me to develop my communication skills while learning more about my future role.

“As I gained more knowledge and took on more responsibility, I was empowered to manage my first package: the finishing elements within the sports hall. This enabled me to develop my management skills and interact with a range of people while building relationships with suppliers, customers and on-site supervisors. I remained on-site throughout aftercare, working alongside the customers and managing their expectations. This taught me the importance of timely, accurate and collaborative communication and the necessity of providing a quality product.”

Joining our management trainee scheme

Following Oldham Sports Centre, Jack completed his apprenticeship working on a range of projects where Willmott Dixon was the prime contractor. As he got increasingly recognised by the business, he was encouraged to apply for the management trainee scheme.

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During his time on our management trainee scheme, Jacked worked with our pre-construction team on our bid for the £9m visitor’s centre and café at Delamere Forest, a project we handed over this summer.

Jack explains “I cannot speak highly enough of the management trainee programme. Through the scheme, over a three year period, I had placements in many different parts of the business, experiencing a range of opportunities, these included roles as a build manager, surveyor and time with our bid teams. Looking back, I enjoyed my time in pre-construction particularly valuable as I was able to see the sheer amount of effort that goes into winning work. I worked on our bid for a visitor’s centre and café at Delamere Forest, procured again through the Scape National Major Works framework and completed this summer. I thoroughly enjoyed understanding the sustainable design expectations set by the customer which led to the use of solar panels, a ground source heat pump, a sustainable drainage design and rainwater harvesting. It is great to see the scheme now being enjoyed by the forest’s visitors.

“My time in pre-construction allowed me to work on the bid for the project I am currently working on; LTE Group's Manchester city centre campus. Commencing this summer and being delivered over a two year period, this £54m project will certainly test the skills I have gained so far! Whilst completing the management trainee programme, I also studied for my degree, achieving a first-class honours in BSC Construction Management this summer, I couldn’t be prouder and it has been great to achieve this alongside continuing my operational role

“One of the things I enjoyed most about the management trainee programme was the opportunity to lead and the opportunity to give back to the community. In 2018, I was honoured to be selected to lead the region’s Foundation Trainee Challenge, a refurbishment of the Salvation Army building in Manchester, providing a new community hub to help tackle modern slavery in Manchester. Together with our supply chain partners, we voluntarily redeveloped the building, donating time and materials, enabling a great cause to continue their life-changing work.”

Reaching new heights

Jack graduated from our management trainee programme and is now working as an assistant building manager. His commitment and enthusiasm led him to be shortlisted at our management trainee of the year awards, ultimately achieving the Scape trainee of the year prize.

Jack explains “It was an honour to find I had been nominated for our internal awards and that I had been shortlisted for Scape trainee of the year following my involvement across a range of Scape projects. Through the National Major Works framework Willmott Dixon has delivered over 450 public sector projects with Scape, totalling over £5 billion in contract values. I fully appreciate how important the collaborative partnership between our two organisations is and the importance of achieving outstanding outcomes for our customers and the local community through the framework.”

On receiving the award, Jack has had some impressive feedback from Scape and across Willmott Dixon:

Mark Robinson, CEO of Scape explains:

“For such a young age, Jack’s experience really impressed me, he is very personable. His knowledge of Scape is impeccable and recognises the benefits of collaboration, a topic close to my heart, he has a fantastic career ahead of him.”

Darren Palmer, commercial director in our North business said:

“I truly believe Jack is an invaluable asset to our business and is a great role model for future trainees to aspire to. His professionalism with customers, consultants, members of the supply chain and his colleagues is exceptional. He has risen to the challenges that have been placed in front of him within his stride and is seen as a key member of the team and sets a very high benchmark for his peers to attain.”
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Jack is now at the forefront of delivering our £54m Manchester city centre campus for LTE Group