Meet the Ambassadors

James Black

James Black

James is a Trainee Contract Surveyor with Hill Group. He is currently undertaking a degree in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management, which he started in 2022.

James Black
Trainee Contract Surveyor
Hill Group

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

I feel that I am much better suited to an apprenticeship over remaining in full time education. I have really enjoyed the experience of working to date and wanted to build on that. Whilst the degree qualification is important to me, I also wanted to make sure that this was complimented by direct workplace ttraining and experience. I enjoy the variety that an apprenticeship gives me in terms of locating myself between the office and various sites and enjoy the challenges that every day brings. ‘Earning while I’m learning’ is also a great bonus!

How did you find out about your apprenticeship?

I researched the top 100 construction companies in the UK and used that to create a target list of companies I intended to make an application to. Upon researching Hill Group further, I was particularly enthused by their management trainee programme, which provides flexible rotations, allowing trainees to gain experience in different departments, even though I have already chosen Quantity Surveying to specialise in.

What does your job involve?

Some of the activities I am currently undertaking include preparing client valuations to make sure Hill are paid, processing subcontractor applications for payment, measuring from drawings to create a bill of quantities, preparing subcontract packages and issuing, contacting subcontractors to confirm willingness to tender and general project correspondence.

 The project finances are at the core of every project. However, contract surveying is as much about the people as it is about numbers.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

Every day is different! Construction is a very dynamic, fast paced environment and one that will always present me with new challenges. The construction industry is one that is highly visible and that gives the opportunity to see the project through its whole life cycle, including the end result. Seeing the project progress helps you appreciate the efforts of the whole team and the part you played in it.

What have you gained from your apprenticeship?

I am only a matter of weeks into my apprenticeship and already working on two live projects! This is really helping me understand the whole process and to start building relationships with colleagues at the office and our management teams on site.

I am growing in confidence and already taking on some responsibility with certain subcontract packages and enquiries and taking ownership of any work I undertake. I have now started at university and will soon be able to apply this learning to my role.

What do you plan to do next?

Once I have completed my five-year Management Trainee Programme, I intend to keep gaining experience and developing my skills in commercial management and developing my role further within Hill Group. In addition, I also plan to continue studying towards a Quantity Surveying MSc and join professional bodies such as the RICS.

How will your apprenticeship help you achieve this?

Once completed, the apprenticeship will give me a tremendous platform to build from. Hopefully I will already have the BSc and perhaps more significantly, I will have five years of on the job learning and experience, allowing me to take the next steps in my career.

What advice would you give a young person who might be thinking about an apprenticeship?

Just do it! Apprenticeships are an incredible alternative to full time education. Do your research on the type of apprenticeship that will suit you best, put the effort into finding and applying for apprenticeship opportunities and make sure you don’t miss the closing dates for applications!

What’s your top tip?

Be enthusiastic! No potential employer can expect you to have any direct experience relevant to your chosen apprenticeship, they are looking for enthusiastic young people full of motivation and a willingness to learn.

Look for work experience opportunities to help you highlight the above traits and ensure that your CV and personal statement are both up to date and presented in a way that helps them stand our from the crowd!

How do you feel about becoming an Apprenticeship Ambassador?

I actually feel quite privileged. I remember how pleased and excited I was when I got the offer from Hill and I want to share my experiences and help inspire the next generation with their future careers.

Meet the Ambassadors

Discover all the profiles of our apprenticeship ambassadors, who help raise awareness of the benefits of Apprenticeships.