9th March 2023

NCW2023: Nils’s strong analytical thinking leads him to pursue a career as a Quantity Surveyor


Throughout National Careers Week, we’re 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 Nils, our Assistant Quantity Surveyor.

Nils originally worked for a Telecoms company before joining the construction industry and progressing through various admin roles.

He’d never considered becoming a Quantity Surveyor, but an old colleague encouraged him to look into it due to his strong analytical thinking skills, numeracy skills and knowledge of the industry.  

Shortly after, he joined Van Elle and was given the opportunity to do some formal training. 

He’s now in the third year of a five-year apprenticeship, working towards a Bachelor of Science with honours in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management, whilst gaining valuable on-the-job experience.

Tell us about your career journey so far.

I left school in 2011 after my A levels and choose to do an apprenticeship in business administration, as I knew this could potentially open lots of opportunities and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do initially.

I was working for a Telecoms company, where they noticed my strong skills in this area and steered me towards a role where it was focused towards Networks and Phone Systems. After a year in this role, I decided it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue as a career.

I joined a construction company as a temporary Health and Safety Admin Assistant. Shortly after I was made permanent and focused my role on data entry. I continued this for seven years and was able to get a real understanding of the industry.

I was then approached by an old colleague, who asked if I’d ever thought about becoming a Quantity Surveyor. Although I wasn’t sure I decided to give it a go. I then joined Van Elle and enrolled onto the apprenticeship scheme.

I’m currently in the third year of my five-year apprenticeship working towards my degree in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management.

Tell us about your current job role/duties.

I’m responsible for managing all aspects of the contractual and financial side of projects within our Piling division. This includes reviewing, agreeing, and negotiating contracts, managing costs to make sure the initial budget isn’t exceeded, debt recovery, applications, and other cash flow-related items.

What does an average week look like for you?

I attend university one day a week working towards my degree in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management and then I’m in the office for the rest of the week.

I often visit sites to understand and build my knowledge, meet with our clients, and discuss project development.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

People interaction, working closely with clients and the team of employees doing the construction work. I also enjoy the travel as the site we work on changes with each project.

What education or training do you need for your role?

There are lots of routes to becoming a Quantity Surveyor such as doing university courses, an apprenticeship, or a graduate training scheme. I’d recommend looking at subjects such as maths, engineering, or construction. Or you could follow the same route as me and look for roles as a Commercial Assistant or Trainee Quantity Surveyor and study part-time to become a Quantity Surveyor. Doing my degree part-time allowed me to really develop my confidence at work.

Why did you choose a career in construction?

I didn’t initially choose construction but it’s an industry I’m very proud to be part of. Construction offers great opportunity to progress and develop your career and there are many routes you can take. Whether you are a school leaver, a graduate or someone who has experience working within a completely different sector, there is a role for everyone.

What are your career aspirations?

I’d like to work my way up to becoming a commercial leader. Eventually, I’ll love to become a Lecturer at University – to help the future generation of aspiring quantity surveyors.

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

Personally, I would recommend an apprenticeship as this allows you to gain first-hand work experience, boost industry knowledge and learn skills whilst gaining a qualification.

Any work experience you can get within the construction industry will make a difference. I worked in the industry before starting my degree apprenticeship and it gave me a better understanding of the industry and enhanced my skills, which has helped my studies. Also, always ask questions is a great way to understand and learn.

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

  • Quantity surveying