Carl is the Owner and Managing Director of Obedair Construction in Plymouth. He is the Enterprise Adviser for Plymstock School.
I’ve worked in construction for 27 years, across multiple disciplines. I chose the construction industry because of the work experience that I did when I was doing my A levels.
I started out as a trainee surveyor; I was like the accountant dealing with the finances and money for each project. I liked seeing the projects go from nothing to finished buildings and the teamwork and camaraderie of the construction industry was perfect for me. Also, I could work and do my qualifications at the same time. There are a lot of degree apprenticeships in construction that mean you can get a degree without getting any debt.
When I started my own business, I felt that it was important to give something back, so at Obedair we have a heavy focus on community engagement.
I’m a founding member of an initiative to eradicate homelessness in Plymouth. We are also a sponsor of building Plymouth and after doing a talk about apprenticeships I was approached about becoming an EA (Enterprise Adviser). We believe in investing time and money each year into growing awareness of construction opportunities in Plymouth, which means that we are more likely to get good talent in the industry, so it was a good fit for me.
In my role as an EA I aim to raise the awareness of all manner of roles within the local area. I’ve given the school links to businesses for their work experience and I’m taking part in a mentoring programme that aims to raise attainment for 150 students in Plymouth. I’m part of a wider network of EAs and we share and interact to make sure that every sector is covered at the schools.
I’ve done a careers assembly for each year group at Plymstock and I’m attending their Futures Event with a stand. I will also be spending a couple of hours per fortnight at the school, so students can book time with me to work on their CVs or talk about getting a work experience placement.
The part of my job that I enjoy most is engaging with people and seeing opportunities to improve our service to clients. It’s a great feeling delivering projects for clients, but it’s the people that I get the biggest kick out of. I like seeing young people with enthusiasm and passion come into the business and I’ve seen people move roles and grow in the company.
My advice to anyone interested in the construction industry would be to get as much information as you can about all the different roles in construction. Lots of people have a perception of what the construction industry is and it might be that it’s the right industry for you, but you only know about the wrong roles.
It’s a challenging industry as projects can be demanding on your time and effort. Projects change, clients change their mind, the weather impacts the schedule; everything is changing and sometimes you have to work long hours to meet the deadlines. But if you have a drive to succeed then you will find it very rewarding.
We had a young lad approach us; he was really intelligent but he didn’t know what he wanted to do. He asked us if he could help out in the summer holidays. The work experience grew his confidence and helped him decide he wanted to be an electrician. The change in him was great to see and he went on to an electrical apprenticeship at Babcock.
There are so many talented kids out there, they just need to be given permission to go for it. As an EA I can help prepare them for the world of recruitment and work and make sure they know what’s out there. I like to help them be forward thinking and progressive about their careers so they can get the job they really deserve.