Technical trainee John Mann was so impressed by his grandad’s stories about professional construction that he decided to go into the industry himself.

The Chellaston teenager was inspired after hearing how his grandfather’s business, JAG Construction, was behind the “first shopping mall in Dubai” and operated in countries across the world.

John, 18, was pleased with his grades after school and, after weighing up his options, he enquired about an apprenticeship with Derby College Employer Academy member GF Tomlinson.

When he was told all the interviews had taken place, he enrolled instead on Derby College’s BTEC in Professional Construction and the Built Environment (Level 3).

After just a month a friend told him a Technical Trainee apprentice place had unexpectedly come up at GF Tomlinson. John acted quickly and tried again for his preferred option. He was accepted for an interview, which went well and he was taken on.

The college then quickly arranged for him to switch to studying one day a week for his Professional Construction BTEC while also being assessed at work for an NVQ Level 3.

Now with predicted BTEC grades of Distinction */Distinction, John is planning to progress onto a Foundation Degree through Derby College and then a BSc at Nottingham Trent University.

John said: “Listening to all of my grandad’s stories inspired me. Even now, I go back and tell him what I’ve been doing and show him my drawings.

“I love coming to work and learning and discovering all sorts of new stuff about the construction industry, and then being able to go into college and share my stories and my knowledge with other people from different companies."

“It’s good listening to what they have to say and what they’ve learnt."

“The lecturers have been very supportive and know their stuff – what you learn at college you can bring back to work.”

GF Tomlinson’s Group Training Manager Doug Hunter, said the business currently had 23 Derby College apprentices on its books, with four more having gone on to currently study at Nottingham Trent University.

Doug said: “The company’s ethos and policy is to ensure that we attract the right kind of people into the industry on our apprenticeship scheme.

“Derby College works very closely with us to ensure that they are guided through the academic and vocational side of the process in order to achieve what we are looking for, which is young, forward looking intelligent people with a goal of becoming construction professionals.”

He said GF Tomlinson recruits apprentices as technical trainees – rather than directly into specific areas of professional construction – to allow them to mature and learn about the business. In that way they and the business can make informed decisions about where their skills best fit in.

Derby College’s Employement and Skills Academy programme aims to boost students’ employability skills and job prospects as well as giving employers the opportunity to shape the college curriculum.

It also reduces employers’ costs for recruiting young people into job and apprenticeship roles after their College course.

Derby College

With a central position in England, Derby Country welcomes over 25,000 learners to its four different campuses on study programmes at all levels, including higher education and apprenticeships. It currently has partnerships with over 2,700 employers in the region.

I love coming to work and learning and discovering all sorts of new stuff about the construction industry, and then being able to go into college and share my stories and my knowledge with other people from different companies.