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Tomlinson Trainees Qualify with Flying Colours

  • Date: 27/08/2013
  • Category: General

Two technical trainees with Derby-based construction company GF Tomlinson are among the first cohort to graduate with flying colours from a degree programme run by Derby College and Nottingham Trent University.

Jake Holmes (23) from Melbourne achieved a First BSc Honours degree and Richard Unwin (23) from Derby a 2:1 BSc Honours degree in Quantity Surveying from NTU after first completing a foundation degree in Professional Construction at Derby College.

They were among the first students to join the foundation degree at the College which was launched five years ago in partnership with NTU and in consultation with local employers – including GF Tomlinson.

Their graduation has coincided with the success of two colleagues at GF Tomlinson – Nathan Smith (21) and Alex Malley (21) both from Derby – who have recently completed their foundation degrees at Derby College and are now progressing onto NTU for a further two years to complete their higher education.

GF Tomlinson Managing Director Stuart Lawrence explained that the company was committed to the recruitment and training of local young people and had an annual intake of trainees as part of its investment in maintain skills levels within the business and to help with succession planning for the future.

On joining the company each Technical Trainee – usually aged between 16 and 19 – is placed on a three-year development programme which sees them enrolled onto a suitable college course to gain a professional qualification as well as spending time in each department of the business.

This includes marketing, estimating, quantity surveying, buying and site management – enabling them to gain a thorough understanding of the whole construction process.

The key skills and knowledge gained through this helps the trainees then select the specialist field in which they would like to pursue their future career.Stuart Lawrence commented: “We like our trainees not just to be proficient in their particular field of work but also to become a business person in their own right.

“This year’s university results have been an outstanding accomplishment for these young people and we are extremely proud of the high levels that they have all achieved.”

Jake Holmes joined GF Tomlinson at 16 and was enrolled part time on a Professional Construction course at Derby College.  He then progressed onto the foundation degree – attending College on day release every week before completing a further two years part- time at Nottingham Trent University.

Jake, who is now a Quantity Surveyor with the company, said: “The combination of work experience, gaining qualifications at College and then University and the support of mentors within the company have been a great experience.”

Assistant Quantity Surveyor Richard Unwin gained A levels at Landau Forte College and was intending to go to University when he heard about job opportunities at GF Tomlinson.

“I decided to go down this route rather than full time university and I am so glad that I did.  I feel that this has and will continue to progress my career further and faster because I have the work experience as well as the qualifications. Although it has been tough to juggle work with studies and a home life – it has all been worth it.”

This was echoed by Foundation Degree graduates Nathan Smith and Alex Malley who are currently a Technical Trainee and a Trainee Site Manager respectively at GF Tomlinson.

Nathan started applying for jobs half way through his full time Professional Construction  course at Derby College and, when he clinched the job at the company, returned to College part time to complete his BTEC qualifications before progressing onto the Foundation Degree.

“I didn’t want to go to university full time but wanted to continue into higher education so this was the perfect solution.

“I found that combining work and study gave me the motivation to do well in both areas and I definitely benefited from staying at College to do the Foundation Degree as we worked in small classes with personal support from the lecturers who knew us.”

Alex Malley, who joined the company at 16 from St Benedict’s School in Darley Abbey, concluded: “Earning while you learn is the best of both worlds and I am really looking forward to now going onto Nottingham Trent University to finish my degree.

“Gaining qualifications is obviously important in an industry such as this but it is good to learn how to apply the theory to the job and to get a good work ethic at an early age through this route.”

Derby College Professional Construction Programme Leader Phil Young concluded: “The foundation degree was launched at Derby College to give young people an alternative route into the construction industry and our students progress onto a wide range of exciting careers including site management, quantity surveying and architecture.

“The higher education programme was established in partnership with Nottingham Trent University and leading local employers, particularly GF Tomlinson.  The company are therefore pioneers in supporting this as a viable route for their young employees to gain a first class education alongside their in-house training programme.

“We are extremely proud of this first cohort, who have now graduated from NTU and are currently paving the way for a large number of young professionals who are progressing well through the foundation and BSc honours degree programme.

“We continue to follow their careers with interest and pride.  They are all a credit to themselves and to Derby College.”



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The company is headed by Sarah Jenkin-Jones, a former journalist with over 30 years’ business to business, business to consumer and public sector PR experience.

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