From 100-hour weeks in utilities to quantity surveying

Posted on: 7 February, 2024

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


Name: Jack Bradshaw

Job role: Trainee Quantity Surveyor

Company: Cooper & Hall Limited

Category: Apprentice of the Year (Postgraduate)

Coming from the utilities industry, Jack is no stranger to hard work.

“I used to dig out electrical mains. The work was physical, and the hours were long: at least 50 hours a week, often more like 60-70, or even 100 hours some weeks. I worked hard and quickly achieved a supervisory role, but I knew that long-term the hours weren’t sustainable.”

A family member of Jack’s who worked at Cooper and Hall told him the company was looking for new recruits to enrol on postgraduate apprenticeship degree courses. “I wasn’t unhappy where I was, but I knew I couldn’t work 100 hours a week forever, and given that I’m in my 30s now, I wanted something with a bit more career progression, so I met with the directors to find out more about quantity surveying and the UCEM apprenticeship, and whether it would be a good fit.”

It quickly became clear that this was the perfect next step for Jack, and he made the switch in August 2022.

Studying (and thriving) at UCEM for his Masters degree has given Jack a renewed sense of purpose: “The first time I went to university I was 18 and I didn’t achieve as much as I’d have liked. The opportunity to do my Masters and put right what I didn’t do so well 12 years ago was a big incentive for me.”

Jack is enjoying getting to know his cohort on the quantity surveying Masters: “It’s such a diverse range of people. There are people with 35 years’ industry experience, people running their own companies, and then there are people like me who are new to the industry. Everyone brings their own strengths and weaknesses, and you get the opportunity to balance yourself out as a result of that.”

Jack has nothing but praise for the team at UCEM: “The course material is quite prescriptive in the way it’s set out, which makes it really user friendly for someone like me who’s been out of higher education for 12 years.

“UCEM is also really big on promoting the welfare of students. I’m someone who experiences anxiety from time to time, and I have an open dialogue with my Apprenticeship Outcomes Officer around channels that I can go to for support. The tutors are also really open to discussions if you’re struggling. The whole university is just incredibly supportive.”

Being nominated for Apprentice of the Year “feels fantastic. When you’re doing your work day-to-day you don’t necessarily feel like you’re doing anything special, but the fact that the university has seen fit to shortlist me is such a validation of the hard work I’ve put in.”

Visit the awards webpage >