Prater Apprentices – The Next Chapter: Sam Crooks

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About Prater Posted by Prater on February 4th 2020

Why did you choose the Prater apprenticeship programme?

I knew I wanted to work within the construction industry in a hands-on role, but I wasn’t sure where to start - which I think is a barrier across a range of industries.

I was looking for a job where I could learn and grow and found this opportunity at Prater. It immediately appealed as the apprenticeship was not only with a reputable, specialist contractor but the course was also structured in a way that it would allow me explore different roles, providing me with the opportunity to find where I would be most suited.

What made you feel that Construction Management was the ideal progression for you? 

I was always keen to have an onsite role. The Trainee Construction Manager role involves a lot of investment and time on-site on a variety of projects; communication and problem solving and working with a team are key competences which really suit my approach to work. It is such an exciting role, and it is especially rewarding to see a project evolve before my eyes! 

Another bonus is the variety in my daily work. Sometimes I’m checking a site to ensure the right materials are available, when we need them, or when they are scheduled to be there, and other times I’m in an office helping set up delivery and progress schedules. There is so much variety in what I do and what is required of me, and every day presents new challenges to discover solutions for. I love the variety and that every day is different.

How has the apprenticeship course shaped your approach to this role? 

By rotating through each department, my eyes were opened to the sheer amount of work that is required to construct a project from the concept stage all the way to a completed, workable building. I’m much more aware and appreciative of the various departments that make this happen, It has also helped me to understand the timescales that each department works to and requires, which means I can manage my own work alongside theirs as well as prepare the questions and considerations I need to adopt when we work together. 

The rotation has also meant that I’ve fostered excellent relationships throughout the business, so I’m very comfortable asking anyone for help or advice.

What do you like most about working for Prater? 

It’s great to work in an environment where enjoying time together socially is part of the culture. Everyone at Prater works incredibly hard to bring projects from design to completed stages, and everyone celebrates success together. We even had a trip to Oktoberfest! The office is a relaxed atmosphere with comfortable sofas and break-out areas as well including a games room.

Have you been working on any stand out projects? 

Victoria Square in Woking has been the main project I’ve been part of since starting in my full time role. A flagship project for Prater, the Victoria Square development is a mixed-use scheme, consisting of two residential tower blocks and another block that will become part of the Hilton Hotel brand. Our scope is 17,000 square metres of engineered façade. I really enjoy being on-site and working with the supply chain. Working on this project and seeing it come to life has been immensely rewarding.

Were there any challenges or misconceptions that the apprenticeship has helped you overcome? 

I have been blown away by the sheer extent of how much goes on behind the scenes for a project and how it all comes together.  I feel that here are sides to the industry that really aren’t appreciated enough or are taken for granted, and these are essential to ensuring that work onsite goes ahead safely, to schedule and to budget.

What is the most valuable lesson you feel you’ve learned in your time with Prater?

The importance of teamwork – communicating effectively is truly vital, and it cannot be understated. I do feel I appreciate this all the more because I have worked in the rotational structure of the course, within each department. Discussing requirements, project status meetings and determining priorities allows projects to go-ahead with as little disruption as possible.  

Would you recommend Prater’s apprenticeship programme to anyone else looking to start their career or take it on a new path?

Absolutely. Whether you know you want to follow a career in construction, or whether you’re unsure of what to do next, there are such a variety of opportunities available that there really is something for everyone, regardless of your prior experience or expectations. It is a fantastic chance to develop your skills with a reputable specialist in the industry. 

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