Building a career in construction: from apprentice to construction director
Leaving school at 16 Gary Cheek started an apprenticeship in bricklaying, 40 years later he is Construction Director at Redrow’s Eastern division and responsible for 10 development sites.
Gary Cheek, commented, “I wasn’t academic enough to want to stay in school for sixth form, sitting in a classroom wasn’t the way I liked to learn. The opportunity to be outside earning, whilst learning a skill was incredibly tempting and I am so pleased that I went off to learn a trade.”
Gary joined Rapid Brickwork in 1987 and gained technical qualifications from City & Guild before studying for his Higher National Certificate and Higher National Diploma. Joining Barratt London at the age of 29 he spent the next 25 years progressing from site manager to project manager and climbed the ranks at the housebuilder before moving across to us as construction director in 2017.
“While apprenticeships do fundamentally teach you a trade, they also equip you with the skills to progress in the industry,” said Gary, “The apprenticeships at Redrow are set-up so young people are able to learn management skills and given the tools to either set-up their own business or become managers and directors at national construction firms.
“If I was to give any advice to apprenticeships starting out in the industry today, it would be pretty simple. All you need to do is, work hard, turn up and be committed. There are no restrictions on what you can achieve outside the traditional classroom learning environment; I think I am a good example of that!”
This week Gary headed out on site at our Eastern divisions Westley Green development in Basildon to see if he can still turn his hand to bricklaying. “It has been great being back out onsite this week, said Gary, “I haven’t used a bricklaying trowel for about 30 years, but it is one of those skills you don’t forget. It’s definitely hard work, especially when the weather isn’t fantastic, but it is great to be part of a team building someone’s new home – it’s an important job.”
Our apprenticeships are set up to give apprentices a clear career path, with specific qualifications identified that will provide the next generation of industry professionals a route into management.