Life as an apprentice at WWA: Harry Ravenhall and Matthew Marquiss

WWA Apprentices Harry Ravenhall and Matthew Marquiss

Harry Ravenhall – Trainee Project Manager

I initially went to college full-time and really didn’t like it. I am not a fan of just studying – I need to be “doing” something. I left college and did a few different entry-level jobs but I was looking out for the right kind of apprenticeship: then the pandemic got in the way. Last year, I saw that WWA were looking for degree-level apprentices but not having A Levels (or the equivalent) meant that I couldn’t apply; however, I thought that I had little to lose by asking if they would consider taking on a Level 4 Apprentice. WWA got me in for an interview and I was lucky that they saw something in me, because they decided to take a risk and offer me a job. I am now on day release and doing an HNC in Construction Site Supervision; once I have completed this course I will go on to do the degree-level apprenticeship. All being well, I will be a fully chartered Project Manager within 7 years and still only in my mid-20s – earning whilst you’re learning is definitely the right route for me.

I 100% know that this is the right job for me. I really enjoy coming to work and there is always so much to learn. When we were off over Christmas, I was really happy to come back to work: I like to keep busy. Construction will always be a massive growth area and I know there will always be work for me if I am prepared to work hard. I also think it will be really satisfying to see completed projects and know that I was part of that – driving around boring friends and family with pointing things out and saying, “I built that and I built that…” The team at WWA have been great at supporting me and helping me to learn on the job, I have already been involved in a range of different projects and really enjoy the variety. I know that WWA have my back and will do what is right for me – I will keep working hard, asking questions and getting involved in as much as possible. I do really like sports so it would be great to be involved in building a stadium or something like that in the future, but at the moment I am enjoying working on a project that is turning a couple of heritage buildings into a mix of retail and hospitality outlets.

In the next few years, I would like to progress with my training and become a fully qualified chartered Quantity Surveyor, and progress within the company gaining knowledge and valuable experience throughout the journey.

Outside of work, I do play a lot of sports: golf and football particularly. I also go to the gym a lot. I’m a typical 19 year old in that I like to go out socialising with my friends at weekends, but I am hoping to start going abroad more – there are loads of different places that I would love to go and see and experience. At the moment I live with my parents and, although I do pay them rent, I am trying to save so that I can set up on my own in the future without having much debt or having to struggle financially – I am pretty serious when it comes to money!

Matthew Marquiss – Trainee Quantity Surveyor

I was looking at going to university to study Architecture when my Aunt saw the advert for a degree-level apprenticeship at WWA and forwarded it on. I had done my work experience with WWA a few years before and had really enjoyed the experience (despite getting really muddy at the Wave!) so I thought that I had nothing to lose in applying for the apprenticeship to see what would happen. I have always been interested in construction and was brought up around it as my dad has his own bricklaying business – like many young people brought up with family businesses, I was sent to work with my dad when I was old enough and have spent plenty of time on building sites. I really enjoying the satisfaction of building something and understanding how it works. My parents really didn’t want me to follow in my dad’s footsteps and often talked about me learning to be a QS, so it was fantastic when I was offered the apprenticeship with WWA. I have been with the company for 6 months now.

I have friends at university so we do talk about the differences. I don’t think university would have suited me at all: I like to be really busy and always have something to do. The fact that university is just academic and there is a lot of down-time means that I would have probably got frustrated. I like the fact that with my apprenticeship I do study at least 1 day per week, but I also have a great deal of work to do that helps me to learn on the job. The whole “not having debts” thing wasn’t really in my mind when it came to choosing an apprenticeship over university, but it certainly is good to be paid well for someone my age! People have always said that I have an old soul so it probably suits me to work and earn whilst studying.

I am enjoying the work that we are doing at the moment and the projects I am involved in, but there are a couple of things that I would love to be involved in in the future if they ever came up as work for the business. It is a standard joke that a QS prefers to build a box as it’s easier to measure, but it would be a great experience to be involved in building something where the architect has been given free range to be fully creative and artistic: like a Gaudi building, for example. I would also love to be involved in building something for Film/TV – my grandad used to paint sets and has told me loads of stories about working on Star Wars – it would be amazing to build structures for a famous film and be in the credits of a top film!

When I’m not working or studying, I like to play my guitar or play games with my friends. I am really independent, and when I got the job I chose to move out of my parent’s house: I like the fact that I am able to support myself and make my own financial decisions. I have just paid for a new TV subscription so I am currently watching old episodes of Doctor Who from the 60s: starting at the beginning and working my way up to the present day – I am a big Doctor Who fan. I thought the old episodes would be dreadful, but they’re not that bad!  

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