Jake Dominy is 21-years-old and from Coalville, Leicestershire. He is currently working on William Davis Homes’ flagship development in the town, Grange Park. He tells us about a very successful 2017, when he picked up a number of prestigious awards for the quality of his work.
Hi Jake, please tell us about your current role, and the exams and training that has got you there.
I’m a final year apprentice bricklayer with William Davis Homes. I joined the company in 2014, and have achieved my Diploma Level 2 and NVQ Level 2 in Bricklaying and I’m waiting for my Advanced NVQ Level 3 final certificate. My interest in bricklaying started when I was 11 when I took part in a taster day at a local college. Once I was old enough to leave school, I started doing a part-time labouring job for a family friend and from there began to learn some skills. The apprenticeship at William Davis Homes was exactly what I was looking for; I could ‘earn and learn’ and I’ve been really happy with my chosen career.
You’ve had a fantastic year for awards – can you take us through them please?
Yes, 2017 was an exceptional year! It started in June when I won the SkillBuild East Midlands heat, which took place at Leicester College, where I’m studying. SkillBuild is an annual competition organised by the CITB and I was entered into the senior bricklaying category. In September, I was awarded the Leicester College Apprenticeship Award for Bricklaying, with my tutors praising my exemplary approach and effort.
In November, I competed in the national final of SkillBuild at the NEC where I was highly commended and I was also the runner-up in the company’s in-house Apprentice of the Year Awards. In December, I was announced as the Apprentice of the Year in the Leicester Mercury Education Awards and I discovered I’m a finalist in the British Education Awards, which will be revealed at the end of January this year.
It’s a great feeling to have been nominated and won so many awards, showing that hard work in college and on site pays off. Both William Davis Homes and Leicester College have been extremely supportive throughout all my competitions and I’m looking forward to the chances 2018 might bring.
How do you rate the standards across the housebuilding industry yourself, now you’ve seen so many high achievers?
Working for a five-star housebuilder, I know what it takes to build to an exceptional standard and we all strive to continually achieve this. Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to other apprentices and some don’t seem to get the same level of on-site training and mentoring which really makes a difference. I think competing in the SkillBuild national final alongside seven regional winners enabled me to see the quality of craftsmanship and attention to detail required to be among the top in the UK. There are some really talented young craftspeople forging their way in the industry.
How has William Davis Homes helped you to your current level of skills and achievement?
The apprenticeship programme I’ve been following has been in place since the 1960s, so it’s an established and successful formula. Each month, I’ve spent three weeks on site with apprentice masters and senior bricklayers and then one week at college to complete my academic studies. This balance has worked perfectly as it’s given me the practical time I need, something I know some of my peers don’t get. As well as learning the trade, William Davis Homes has also encouraged me to take up other opportunities, so I have spent time in local schools, talking to students about apprenticeships and a career in housebuilding which has helped me develop presentation skills and grow my confidence.
What is it about your line of work that you find most satisfying?
I think ultimately it’s about seeing the end product, something tangible that I can look at and think, I helped to build that. More specifically, I really enjoy some of the detailed brickwork and decorative features such as arches; they are time-consuming but always look really good in the end.
Being a bricklayer is a skill I’ll have for life too: whatever happens, I know I’ll always have a trade I can rely on.
Do you have any advice for people considering a career in UK housebuilding?
The housebuilding industry is forever growing, and people are always going to need homes, so it’s a positive career choice. I think for those considering an apprenticeship, my advice is to put the effort in, step out of your comfort zone, be willing to learn and to listen, and there will be plenty of rewards. You’ll have a life-long trade, opportunities to meet and work with new people, travel and start earning. My ambition now is to build my own house.