Studied : HNC Construction and the Built Environment
Progression : Project Surveyor, Unitas Stoke-on-Trent
Halfway through his HNC course, Karl Bickerton discovered that his employer could no longer fund his qualification. This left him with a choice of either dropping his studies or finding another way to finance them.
Taking the second option, Karl left his job and began working as a freelance carpenter in order to pay for his studies. It’s this decision that led to the former maintenance operator/engineer not only graduating from his course but also being named Walsall College’s Higher Education Student of the Year 2019.
“Receiving an award as big as this leaves you lost for words,” said Karl. “It was so unexpected, but it shows that you have to believe in yourself. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”
It was after spending 17 years working for the NHS that Karl decided he wanted to pursue a career in construction project management. He realised that studying a higher education qualification would provide extra knowledge that he could use to explore other career opportunities.
“I wanted to understand more about the overall process of construction management,” he explained. “I felt that with new skills in looking after budgets and report writing, I’d have more of a professional platform to take forward.”
Having been out of education for some time, Karl did face some challenges during his course such as navigating his way through Microsoft programmes like excel and powerpoint. But with perseverance and support from his lecturers, plus encouragement from his family, Karl continued to give everything to his studies.
Karl continued: “What stood out for me were the real-life group projects we were involved in. We all contributed by having specific job roles. I was the architect, which initially was daunting but I overcame this in the end.
“The knowledge of the tutors also set me up for the future. They were amazing. The way things were delivered was easy to understand, which made me more confident about taking on any future work I needed to do.”
Having graduated, took his first professional step in construction management as a project surveyor.