Championing apprentices from the technical team

Posted on: 5 February, 2024

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we’re profiling each of the shortlisters from this year’s UCEM Built Environment Apprenticeship Awards.


Name: William Tobin

Job role: Senior Building Surveyor

Company: Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB)

Category: Large Employer

For William Tobin, a building surveyor at RLB, nurturing the next generation of talent isn’t something you just leave to HR. As an established member of the technical team, William is instrumental in supporting and mentoring the firm’s apprentices.

“While our Learning and Development team do a great job training and retaining young staff, it’s also on us technical staff to put that time aside and engage in those mentoring programmes. I think we’ve got a culture where everyone will take ten minutes to speak to an apprentice or invite them to come out on site for the day.”

A former apprentice himself, William knows firsthand the difference a supportive environment can make: “I remember that feeling of asking someone something and them drawing me a little sketch, which I then used in meetings. So I’ve seen the value in that apprentice who doesn’t know anything about construction being helped to progress through the ranks in a very quick period of time.”

William points out that apprenticeships often attract people with a different mindset to that of a graduate: “The apprenticeship route is a great way of involving people who didn’t typically excel academically but have the potential to excel when they’re allowed to learn in a more hands-on way. It’s a real opportunity for our industry because it will benefit from those people’s skills in the years to come.”

The relationship between RLB and UCEM has been “really successful” because the remote learning model enables the company, which has 12 offices in the UK, to apply a consistent approach to its apprenticeship programme, with people able to take the same course from different locations. This also provides the apprentices with the flexibility to manage their study around their working hours, and to cheer each other on. “We have a WhatsApp group where we check in on how everyone’s doing and celebrate their successes.”

William is a keen advocate for apprenticeships as a way to diversify the industry: “The apprenticeship route gives an opportunity to people who wouldn’t previously have thought of construction as an option, whether that’s surveying, sustainability, or contracts. Bringing those people into the industry increases diversity, and that opens up access to a wider range of perspectives and backgrounds that can be really valuable for the sector.”

On being nominated for an award, William says: “I care a lot about my job and I care a lot about my colleagues, so to see how they feel about me condensed into a very flattering nomination is a great feeling! I’m glad to be able to help the company along.”

Visit the awards webpage >