In September 2017, Ashford College’s £26m, 7,135m², campus opened on Elwick Road. While the construction progressed, one of the College’s apprentices was in the thick of the action, experiencing the build first-hand. David Steptoe was the apprentice site manager for the building contractor, BAM Construction. He worked on site for four days a week, then spent one day at Ashford College studying for his BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment.
“I was always interested in work where I could see a physical product at the end of the day, so I enjoyed carpentry, had done my Carpentry & Joinery Diploma Level 1 and actually applied for a carpentry apprenticeship. During my application process, I was informed that I had the right grades for the BAM apprentice role, and I was keen to get involved with them. I started my apprenticeship with them when I was 18.”
“A lot of my BAM colleagues were students at Ashford College and commented on the good reputation of their apprenticeship scheme. My sister was also a student there and had recommended it to me.”
Initially, he worked with BAM on their Foxwood and Highview School development in Folkestone, before being transferred to the Ashford new campus site.
He says: “When I first came to the site in Mid-October 2015, it was just waste ground and three workmen in a hut! It’s been great to see the progress from start to eventual finish.”
He explained his daily duties: “I did the daily checks of who’s on site, took progress photos of the build and monitored the waste tickets, ensuring all waste materials were safely and responsibly transported off site. I also undertook concrete cube testing – analysing samples of concrete to see if it met requirements. I also drafted the PLOD (Plan of the day), which details the activities for the day and any major risks involved.”
David is keen to highlight how valued the BAM employees made him feel: “Although I was the apprentice there, the site team genuinely made me feel like a valid team member.”
He continues, “Mike, the site manager, supervised me doing my on-site duties and helped me learn about the efficient day-to-day running of the site. I learnt a huge amount about Health & Safety here. When I walk past other sites now, I find myself almost absent-mindedly checking their standards of health and safety!”
Mike Dowling, Site Manager for BAM at Ashford, commented at the time: “Dave is getting on very well and has really found his feet here. Many of the men working on site here would have jumped at the chance to do what he’s doing, if the opportunity had been available to them when they were his age.”
David has now gone on to study the HNC in Construction at Ashford College and will later go on to study a HND at University. He added, “I then hope to get some experience as a site manager for 5 years, at which point I can progress to being a project manager.”