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Why we chose construction: A spotlight on City & County of Swansea apprentices

Our annual Apprentice Awards seek to recognise the fantastic achievements of apprentices from across the region. Following the moderation process, a group of apprentices are shortlisted, with two overall winners then chosen for the categories of Best Technical Apprentice and Best Trade Apprentice.

Among those shortlisted were two City & County of Swansea apprentices who work with the Council’s building services department, which is responsible for making sure that buildings are safe, healthy, sustainable and accessible for all users. It covers domestic, commercial and public use buildings and ensures their compliance with specific building regulations.

Ryan Gibbons – Bricklaying Apprentice

Like many of the shortlisted apprentices, Ryan has shown a level of ability, understanding and work ethic far beyond the level expected from, at the time, a second-year apprentice.

He was part of the bricklaying team working on the West Cross project, with one of his first tasks being to set out and lay the sole plate for the timber frame on four new bungalows. He did this independently, working solely from a drawing with no issue, and the accuracy of his setting out was millimetre perfect.

His colleagues describe his speed and standard of work as excellent, and far above the level expected from an apprentice of his experience. The same feedback was given from the roofers, window company and plasterers who independently worked on the same project.

He is a keen self-starter who is motivated to push projects forward and relay his knowledge to others, offering help and advice to his colleagues working on the adjoining bungalow. It is for these reasons that Ryan was awarded the Best Trade Apprentice Award – a fantastic achievement that will hopefully reinforce the confidence that Ryan already has in his abilities.

When asked about his journey within the industry, Ryan said:

“I have always wanted to work in construction because I’ve always been a more hands-on person. So far, the best aspect has been seeing my work develop from start to finish.

“Throughout my apprenticeship, I have learnt various new skills, including cavity walling, garden walling, slabbing and how to build a stone wall. I learnt these new skills on the three new build housing projects in Penlan, Clase and recently, West Cross. In the next five years, I would like to take on more responsibility and explore management roles, starting with becoming a site foreman and then progressing as high as I can.”

Zachary Ranson – Plastering Apprentice

City & County of Swansea’s Building Services department have been very impressed with Zach’s progress since coming on board with them. According to his colleagues, Zach is proving year on year to be a real asset to the authority and has a mature attitude towards his work and colleagues.

The high standards that Zach holds himself to have accelerated him through his apprenticeship journey. His dedication to the highest level of tradesmanship, organisation and problem solving, has set him apart from his peers. No task is too much of a challenge and his can-do attitude means he has become a valued member of the team.

Zach said:

“I’ve always liked working hands on and doing physical work, as well as seeing the difference you can make when you put the hard work in. I soon discovered that the construction industry would provide this. So far, I’ve learned a wide variety of skills, techniques and finishes, ranging from internal finishing like skimming, to external finishes such as dashing.

“I’ve worked on various new build projects with Swansea Council at Clase, Birch Grove and Blaen-y-maes. I am currently working on another project where we are converting an old housing office into flats.

“In five years, I see myself still working for Swansea Council, providing they decide to take me on after my apprenticeship. I also see myself eventually going into property development because I have a passion for seeing the end product; seeing four brick walls transform into a room and making your ideas a reality, like transforming an old property that’s run down and giving it a new lease of life, making it something that people can enjoy for many years.”

We wish both Zach and Ryan the best of luck in their journey into the construction industry.