Construction placement gives Oxford students a career head start

Two Oxford Brookes University students studying quantity surveying have landed a 12-month construction placement with Beard where they will be putting classroom theory into practice and developing their skills on live building projects.

Aaron Wozny, 19, and Kalyan Chudasama, 26, secured their placements through their ‘sandwich’ degree programme which includes a work experience year with industry professionals like us between their second and third years of study.

“I found out about the Beard placement from a talk at my university,” says Aaron Wozny, who is studying for a BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management degree. “I decided to go for it because Beard looked like it had a good working environment; it was a good-sized company and it gave me the opportunity to work across not just construction, but surveying and estimating and more. So far on my placement, I’ve been assisting a quantity surveyor on Beard’s £3.2 million refurbishment and expansion project at John Hampden and Wendover Junior Schools in Wendover. This has included carrying out remeasures, placing subcontract orders and pricing variations.”

He explains: “I’ve learned loads already in this job. Beard has a very relaxed but professional environment, and everyone is very approachable. I’ve always wanted to go into the construction industry and this work placement will be a really good way of understanding what the jobs are actually like, which you don’t really get at university.”

Kalyan Chudasama, who is part-way through studying for a BSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management degree, is also gaining valuable work experience from his traineeship with us as an assistant quantity surveyor: “I’ve been with Beard for five months and I’ve learned a lot from the experience already.”

Kalyan’s Beard traineeship has given him the opportunity to work with a professional construction team on two major schemes the company is delivering in Oxford. These include a £1 million sixth form centre extension at Headington School and a £5.6 million new Science, Education and Innovation centre at Stansfeld Park which is being built for the Oxford Trust.

“I have been part of the Beard project team from day one and they’ve given me relevant, meaningful and challenging work to complete from the start,” says Kalyan. “Everyone here is great at explaining anything that I’m not sure about and there’s always someone at Beard willing to help. They understand that I’m here to learn.”

He adds: “To me, industry placements are important because they enable you to hit the ground running when you graduate. After spending three years at university and one year on placement, you just want to get involved and not be treated as a ‘trainee’. It puts you ahead in terms of experience and allows you to take on more responsibility from the start.”


Huge demand for construction skills

Construction is one of the UK’s largest industries and employs around 2.2 million people. But the industry faces a huge labour shortage due to a rapidly ageing population and fewer new entrants. The Chartered Institute of Building estimates that 157,000 new recruits will be needed by 2021 to meet the nation’s construction and infrastructure needs.

Beard regional director Dean Averies, a former Beard trainee, says: “Having started my construction career with Beard, I know how important it is to attract young and talented people into our business and the wider construction industry, which faces an acute skills shortage.

“As an ambitious growing business, we know that young people are vital to Beard’s long-term success and the investment we make in students like Aaron and Kalyan now, ensures we have a skilled and qualified workforce in the future and a competitive edge.”

Dean, who is based at our Oxford office in Cumnor Hill, joined Beard straight from school at age 16. Through the company’s trainee programme he went on to gain a BSc in Quantity Surveying and a Master’s degree in Law of the Built Environment.

We offer a range of training opportunities, such as industry placement years for undergraduates, which through hands-on experience with real construction teams on real projects, aims to help young people become confident and capable construction workers for the future.