9th March 2023

NCW2023: A change in direction leads to Contracts Engineer role for Michael

Throughout National Careers Week, we are shining a light on various roles within our business and the range of routes our employees have taken to get to where they are. Meet Michael, Contracts Engineer for the Housing Division.

At 35 Michael thought he was stuck in the career path he had been on for over 18 years.

He’s now completely changed careers, swapping the leisure centre for a construction site – and he couldn’t be happier.

Michael’s dad worked in Construction so he’d always been curious as to how he could get into the industry. However, having worked in the leisure industry for a number of years, changing careers felt like a daunting prospect.

When he heard Van Elle was recruiting, he decided to get his CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card. Soon after he started his new role as an Operative.

Since then, he has progressed to Contracts Engineer, supporting the day-to-day running of projects within our Housing division.

It’s important to remember that skills are often transferable from one job to another, even if you don’t initially think so!

Looking for a career in construction? Read more about Michael’s journey here.

Tell us about your career journey so far.

I worked in the Leisure industry from the age of 16 years old.  during this time I had a variety of roles including Lifeguard, Chef and Duty Manager. I then moved over to Sales & Service Manager where I worked across multiple leisure centres, golf clubs and an ice rink. In late 2017 things were changing, and the industry was making redundancies, which made me look at other roles available.

The construction industry appealed to me as I knew there were a wide variety of roles that would suit my existing skillset, but I wanted to get some hands-on experience to help me. A friend worked for Van Elle and mentioned they were recruiting for labourers, so I decided to get my CSCS card and in early 2018 I started my new role as an Operative.

In 2020, I began a trial in the office and moved into the role of Contracts Engineer, the experience I gained from site helped me to transition into this role.

Tell us about your current job role/duties.

Supporting the day-to-day running of our projects to ensure they are delivered safely and efficiently. Attending regular meetings with clients and key stakeholders, site visits pre and during site works, liaising with site employees daily and preparing, and issuing plans, RAMS, contact programmes and other site paperwork that is required.

What does an average week look like for you?

My week is made up of:

  • Internal meetings such as handovers of contracts from work winning to contracts
  • External meetings with clients such as pre-starts and consultations mid works
  • Collecting the information required and putting together the job files for site
  • Meet the site team to brief on jobs, deliver materials that may be needed or help with any issues.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

You get to collaborate with a team – construction is a very social industry and projects involve many people working together towards a common goal. Every construction site brings new, interesting challenges and the opportunity to travel.  Also, watching the progress turn into a completed project, day by day, is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. 

What education or training do you need for your role?

I knew I couldn’t switch industries without some time on the tools to gain valuable experience.  With this experience, I was able to use my transferable skills to pass my probation period in the office. I have since completed my SMSTS course and Appointed Person for lift planning. Both have been a great help in improving my ability to fulfil my role when planning and dealing with clients. Many of my colleagues in the same role have previous experience as Graduate Engineers, Site Operatives and Apprentices.

I do believe having the right work ethic and willingness to learn makes a huge difference, like Van Elle, many companies offer full training and support to support your role.

Why did you choose a career in construction?

The variety of opportunities and career paths – there are a wide variety of jobs within the construction industry, providing many opportunities to find one that suits your skills. The job was well-paid compared to my previous career and there are so many opportunities to progress and develop. 

What advice would you give to somebody looking to get into the role?

A good way to get into this role is by approaching employers for work experience or looking for an employer that is willing to support training. This allows you to gain more skills and knowledge which will help you get a foot in the door. Also ask questions, listen and be ready to learn.

Visit our careers page for more information on Van Elle opportunities. Or for more information on career guidance visit National Careers Week.

  • Contracts Engineer