Ben Hebden 1.903d3bf9fa4349d7

Ben Proves Apprenticeship Can Be First Step to Management

Ben Hebden, 23, from Wakefield, is one of three new management appointees at Redrow Homes who prove the value of a trade apprenticeship.

Ben, Curtis Taylor and Matt Rooney all began their careers as apprentice joiners with the UK housebuilder.

Five years on and now in their early 20s the three men have just become assistant site managers, a position which brings with it a competitive salary, company car, laptop mobile phone and other tools of the trade – at a time when many of their peers may be coming out of university with large debts and are yet to find work.

Ben, who lives in Grange Moor, near Wakefield and  attended Shelley High School (now Shelley College), joined Redrow Homes (Yorkshire) as an apprentice in 2007.

Now an assistant site manager, he said: “I actually took my A Levels and had planned to go to university to study construction management. However in the end I made a conscious decision to become an apprentice instead. I felt I would get more of a grounding in the practical side of the job and that ultimately people would respect me more as a manager if I had come through the ranks.”

At the time, Ben faced some resistance from teachers at school who told him that by becoming an apprentice he was doing something that he could have done two years earlier.

“In the end I’m glad I made the decision I did.  Having done A levels, including business studies, and started my apprenticeship a little later than most, I think it made my assistant site manager training that bit easier. I was more mature and had experienced working part-time in a lighting shop in Huddersfield, dealing with the public,” he added.

“I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship to today’s teenagers. I’ve earned money and learnt a trade while friends who went to university were always skint.  I’ve got good friends who’ve graduated in law and journalism but can’t get jobs in their chosen careers so are now doing something else that isn’t relevant to their degree.”

For the last 18 months Ben has been working at Redrow’s Wheatley Chase development in Halifax but is about to move to Branwell Park in Guiseley.

“I love that every day is different in my job. Things are constantly changing on site and you are always learning. I’d love to rise through the ranks and would also like to spend time working in different departments, such as technical and quantity surveying so that I get a much fuller understanding of the housebuilding business,” he added.

Karen Jones, Redrow’s HR director says: “Undoubtedly a degree can be a major asset and Redrow invests in a number of graduate and under-graduate training programmes of its own. However, the value of a trade apprenticeship is often vastly under-estimated. 

“Ben, Curtis and Matt had the benefit of earning a wage while they learned their trade. After achieving their NVQ Level 3 in carpentry and joinery in 2010 they went on to become trainee assistant site managers, achieving NVQ Level 3 in site supervision. 

“Each has now reached the level expected of them to take on the assistant site manager role proper and they’re well on their way to becoming future site managers, in charge of every element of construction on one of our housing sites across England and Wales.”

As well as focusing on the necessary construction skills, managing plans and drawings and understanding groundworks, their training has also incorporated time management, customer service and leadership skills.

The success of these three young men should be encouraging news for teenagers who picked up their A Level or GCSE results earlier this month and are unsure of what the future holds. For those who decide further academic studies are not for them, a trade apprenticeship could be the answer.

“As competition for university places becomes more intense and the cost of fees rockets, learning a trade is a very real alternative and offers a definite route to management, as our own examples show, or self-employment for those apprentices who go on to establish their own successful sub-contracting businesses.” Karen adds.

Redrow’s employee to apprentice ratio (16:1) is believed to be one of the best in the housebuilding industry and the company has just recruited 20 more apprentices who started work in August.

The housebuilder’s track record with apprentices, running training programmes for under-graduates and post-graduates, plus developing the skills of its existing workforce, were instrumental in helping the company be included in Building magazine’s list of best construction industry employers last year.

For more on careers and training with Redrow see

Redrow Homes is one of the UK’s leading house builders, operating across England and Wales, with a strong emphasis on high quality family housing in prime locations. Its New Heritage Collection of family homes combines traditional looking, ‘Arts & Crafts’ influenced exteriors with bright, modern, high specification interiors. Established more than 35 years, the company has won numerous awards over the years. Redrow received a 5* Award in the Home Builder Federation (HBF) annual customer satisfaction survey in 2011 and 2012; collected the Gold award in the Large Housebuilder category of the 2011 What House? awards; and its ‘Our Pride ~ Your Joy’ campaign was named best marketing initiative at the 2011Housebuilder Awards for innovation and excellence. Web: