Encouraging existing staff to upskill

Posted on: 6 February, 2024

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


Name: Paul Pratten

Job role: Associate Director

Company: Quadrant Building Control

Category: SME Employer

Paul is Associate Director at Quadrant, which is due to merge with Socotec later in 2024. The company has progressed from having no training scheme as recently as 2021 to running a growing apprenticeship programme with a dedicated training manager.

With 35 years’ experience in the built environment, there was only one provider that sprang to Paul’s mind when Quadrant’s office manager Kirsty Robinson expressed an interest in learning more about building control: UCEM.

Paul explains: “I’ve been aware of UCEM since I started in this industry aged 18 and I know lots of people who’ve been through their programmes, including people in this office, so they were the obvious first port of call. We did research several other providers as well, but UCEM was highly recommended, highly reputable, and the only provider we found that offered a part-time building control degree that was 100% online.”

The existence of a specialist building control apprenticeship is of particular importance to Paul: “I’ve seen people with degrees in building surveying give building control a try and decide they don’t like it for whatever reason and then they’ve left, whereas this is for people who want to do building control and get the right training on the job.”

Learn more: How apprenticeships can upskill your workforce for the future

Paul’s colleague Becky Robinson (no relation to Kirsty Robinson!) is also enrolled on the building control apprenticeship at UCEM. Becky has dyslexia, and has been impressed at the level of support made available to her by UCEM.

Becky says: “UCEM have been brilliant with me. They got me an assessment for dyslexia and put in place all sorts of support. They put me in touch with someone from Clearview to help me with my essays and my referencing and grammar, and they’ve provided me with software. The disability support at UCEM is amazing.”

Kirsty and Becky were Quadrant’s first apprentices, and it’s no coincidence that both are female. “I didn’t see a female building inspector for the first 20 years of my career”, says Paul. “Now, in this office, we’re outnumbered! The apprenticeship scheme has enabled more women to enter the industry on a level playing field.”

Paul was nominated for his award by Kirsty and Becky. Kirsty says: “Paul gave us the confidence to begin looking into doing a course, because there’s that barrier where you think ‘well, we’re just admin’, but Paul really encouraged us to go for it. Becky and I wouldn’t be where we are now if it weren’t for Paul.”

Visit the awards webpage >