BCITO stalwart: Assessing apprentices across the generations

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Recently qualified carpentry apprentice at We Construct Ltd Ngapo Wehi (left) with company director Tristan Sanders.

David Parsons has been with the Building and Construction industry Training organisation (BCITO) for 17 years, first as a moderator and then later as an assessor.

Currently, he is assessing apprentices being trained by one of his original apprentices, who is now an employer. It’s a classic example of BCITO’s involvement in inter-generational training.

Tristan Sanders initially met Parsons through his first employer. Soon, Parsons saw him every three months to gauge his progress as Sanders worked towards being a fully qualified builder.

Later, when Sanders established his own company, he needed to train his apprentices. He then encouraged them to work with the same man who had looked after him.

“In the course of my relationship with Tristan, I’ve worked alongside 35 of the We Construct crew,” Parsons says.

“As well as Tristan and his wife and business partner Michelle, I’m currently overseeing 20 apprentices and five evaluator/verifiers.

“Five apprentices have completed their carpentry apprenticeships, two are training to be site supervisors, and one has completed his qualification.

“It’s been inspiring to be involved with Tristan and all those who work with him over an extended period. The key to success is building trust, being there for them, looking them in the eye, and helping them progress their skills.

“I’m there to assess their skills, but part of the role is also to offer support and be a mentor.

“Different people have different ways they like to be assessed,” Parsons says. “While some like to write things down, most prefer to talk about what they know.

“I look to have successful outcomes with everyone I engage with. I value study and improving myself, and I hope I pass that on to those I assess. I want them to feel positive about their future and the hard work they are putting in.”

Sanders says his company started small, just doing residential projects, but as they moved into other work, they found they needed to expand their workforce — and they wanted to make sure their people had all the skills they needed.

“We have an expanding crew of around 70,” Sanders says, “and I’ve encouraged all of them to do their apprenticeship and to form a relationship with David.”

By encouraging all his employees into apprenticeship programmes, Sanders has gained the confidence to build and expand his business.

“An apprenticeship won’t teach them everything but, like I found, it gives a solid base on which to acquire further skills.

“That’s why I don’t mind taking on apprentices and why I’d encourage other employers to invest their time in training.

“When you’re working alongside a good assessor, like I am with David, you know your people are really learning the language and the skills they’ll need as builders.

“And if you’re thinking of taking up an apprenticeship, I can tell you from personal experience that it’s worth it. Give it a go. Don’t be afraid to start. You’ll learn a lot.

“You’ll meet some great people and you’ll have skills that you can take with you, and turn to, for many, many years.”

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