From Recruitment to Quantity Surveying: how leveraging the benefits of an apprenticeship can help you reach your career goals

In our latest student case study blog, we speak with Tim Whitcher, Assistant Quantity Surveyor at Evolution5, who’s studying the Chartered Surveyor Quantity Surveying Pathway apprenticeship with UCEM.

Realising my career goals

After spending some time in college studying Graphic Design, I was never certain of which career was for me. I wasn’t ever one of those people who knew straight from leaving school. Whilst at college, I received a university booklet about Quantity Surveying – I must have been about 18 years old at the time – and remember it sparked an interest but it wasn’t the right time for me in my life to pursue university, I wanted work and earn an income.

From college, I landed myself a job in business development which I worked in for 4 years before deciding to go travelling around Australia for 12 months. Upon my return, I got into recruitment, which luckily saw me recruiting for roles such as Quantity Surveyors, Building Surveyors and Project Managers. I built up a lot of industry knowledge during my six years in recruitment, as I would often be talking day in day out with large companies and senior leaders within the Built Environment. During this time, my initial spark for a career in Quantity Surveying from my college days was re-ignited – and at this point, my knowledge of the industry had grown immensely.

I then realised I was ready to pursue my career goals and the right path for me was in Quantity Surveying. I had heard lots about UCEM as many of the CVs I’d receive in my recruitment role would mention them – and some of my clients would as well. It was important to me at this stage in my life that I still was able to earn an income whilst studying so UCEM immediately came to mind. I was also aware from my recruitment days that having an RICS accreditation was really useful for climbing the ladder in the industry, and this was something UCEM could help provide me with.

Studying an apprenticeship

I utilised the industry relationships I had gained through recruitment and spoke with clients about how it would be best for me to get into Quantity Surveying at my age and with my circumstances. I couldn’t leave full time work to study and I knew I learnt best through practical exercises – it very quickly became evident that the route of an apprenticeship was best suited to me. It also happened to be a time when apprenticeships were being heavily talked about in the media, so I could easily do my research.

I began studying the Level 6 Quantity Surveying apprenticeship with UCEM in March 2018. This specific route is really important to me as the end point assessment provides you with chartered status. Coming out of an apprenticeship as a fully chartered Quantity Surveyor is brilliant. And, as mentioned before, from my background in recruitment, I know how important being chartered is.

I’m naturally a very disciplined person so the work versus study balance hasn’t been too difficult for me. I set myself weekly goals and targets so I can easily keep on top of my workload. The way that UCEM’s VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) works is also really supportive. It gives you a weekly objective and learning outcome, which helps you feel on top of everything. I can clearly see in advance what the outcome will be each week and set myself goals to make sure I read enough that week for a specific module.

Having self discipline is important in many aspects in life but especially when it comes to working for a busy company and studying at the same time. Luckily, my work is very structured and accommodating to allow myself the time I need for studying. I currently get a full day dedicated to studying each week. I also let my seniors at work know what modules I’m studying and they can then support me with my learning and help add theory to the subject.

Studying with UCEM

My experience has been brilliant so far. I especially like the VLE and have been amazed at the amount of material I have access to as a student. There’s so much available to help you study and provide support with your day-to-day work life. At first it can be tricky to find your way around the portal however this soon eases with experience.

UCEM always asks for student feedback so I know that if there was an issue or something I needed it would be dealt with. For example, I noticed a book on Amazon that I thought would help me in my assignment, I suggested it to my module leader and he responded with an alternative – which was massively helpful. You can direct message module leaders frequently so you always feel that you have guidance.

Advice to others looking into apprenticeships

I would definitely suggest talking to as many people as you can with knowledge of the industry you’re interested in, and to those who may have experienced studying whilst working. Getting feedback and advice from others who have taken a similar route is hugely useful for ensuring you have an understanding of what to expect – and can really gear you up for everything. I spoke with 4 – 5 companies who I worked with closely in recruitment and got great feedback on how to get into Quantity Surveying and what it may entail. However, I realise this was a unique situation for me due to my background.

I’m still early in my journey to reaching chartered status but as I look ahead, I really want to grow as a valuable team member for Evolution5 (my current employer). At some point, I would like to look into doing a master’s degree – potentially in Construction Management. However, for the moment I’m heavily focused on completing the apprenticeship programme with UCEM and doing the best I can as an Assistant Quantity Surveyor.

Since starting the apprenticeship Tim has also begun writing a blog on his experience, which you can follow more on here: www.surveyingwithtim.com.