We launched the campaign – #BuildACareerWithoutLimits – to ‘shout out’ for construction and communicate career opportunities in our sector. In our running blog series for Builders’ Merchants News, we ask young people in merchanting how training, education and apprenticeships have helped them develop their careers.

Hannah Taylor started her search for an apprenticeship in 2017. She found a Marketing Apprenticeship at the Builders’ Merchants Federation (BMF) on the GOV.UK website. The location was perfect, so she applied and started a 15 month apprenticeship in January 2018, which Hannah completed in 12 months.

“I wanted to make marketing my career,” explains Hannah. “My boyfriend encouraged me to look at apprenticeships as he started this way. He knew the benefits of ‘earning while you learn’. It’s the best way of getting your foot in the door, he said, and I wouldn’t regret it. He wasn’t wrong.

“I had no knowledge of the sector, so I had to do a lot of research before my interview.” Hannah’s lack of awareness isn’t unusual. “I hadn’t considered an apprenticeship, and this wasn’t a career I was told about in school or college,” says Hannah.

The apprenticeship was more than learning about marketing. “I’ve learnt a lot about the building materials industry and why it’s important. The industry is growing, and companies are investing in the future, building both their businesses and their people. Everyone I’ve met at events and forums have been friendly and helpful. It’s not as male-dominated as I thought and there are plenty of inspirational female role models to look up to.”

That’s important because, as well as improving awareness, we need to change perceptions and inspire people of all ages, backgrounds and gender. Whether you’re setting out as a young person, or looking to switch careers, there’s an amazing breadth of jobs with opportunities to start in one role and progress or move around.

“There is a skills gap, however I feel that there needn’t be as this is a friendly and welcoming industry which fosters diversity and inclusion and looks to attract and develop talented people,” says Hannah. “There’s great variety in careers with huge opportunities for progression. Sadly though, people that don’t work in the industry presume that the only career available is working in a yard, which is not the case. There are careers in marketing, IT, driving, finance, human resources and many more.”

After completing her apprenticeship, Hannah became a full-time Marketing Assistant at the BMF. “My role developed with every assignment I completed, and I was able to apply each piece of coursework to tasks and projects in my job. My confidence and abilities have grown, and I’ve gained responsibility. I now look after the relaunched Building Materials Careers website, which is part of the BMF’s strategy to promote job opportunities, and help members recruit a workforce from a wide range of backgrounds and experience.”

Hannah’s advice to people considering an apprenticeship or career in the building materials sector is: “Do it! You won’t regret it. There’s a reason so many people in the sector have been working in it for most of their careers. It’s an excellent industry to work in. If you have the ambition, drive and determination to succeed, you’ll go far. My ambition is to work my way up. It will take time and a lot of hard work, but I know I can do it!”

Inspirational stories like these are at the heart of the #BuildACareerWithoutLimits campaign – real life case studies that help transform and improve perceptions. The campaign targets apprentices; school, college and university leavers; people who work in the sector or are thinking of a change of career.

WCoBM has dedicated funds to support training and education with a new bursary of up to £2,000 a person. Available through its Charity Fund, the bursary is open to apprentices and students looking to work for a builders’ merchant or supplier, and to people working in the sector.

If you would like to apply directly, or know someone who could benefit from the bursary, visit www.wcobm.co.uk/about/build-your-career. Applications are subject to specific criteria.