ISG construction graduate Alex Riley looking at roof on a scissor lift

5 things I've learnt as a construction apprentice in ISG's UK Retail team

Alex Riley shares his experience of ISG's apprenticeship and graduate schemes.

1. You don’t have to know everything, you just have to be willing to learn

When I joined the construction industry I didn’t really know what to expect and with no prior experience I had so much to learn.

I started on an apprenticeship scheme with ISG, and to support my apprenticeship began studying with University College of Estate Management on a Construction Management course. My role has been a range of learning curves ever since, but as long as I’m showing up and trying my best then the team around me are always happy to help.

It's exciting when you’re new to the industry, you get an abundance of opportunities to learn different types of skills. From the crux of building methodology and understanding construction processes, to problem solving, managerial skills and other important life lessons.

2. The industry can shape your personality (for the better)

This job has helped me to grow to become somebody who is more resilient and robust.

When you’re working on so many different types of project, with people of different personalities, backgrounds and strengths it takes you out of your comfort zone which ultimately allows your confidence to grow.

In a busy construction environment you’ll often find that things are very fast paced, and you need to solve problems and make decisions quickly. You have to be poised to speak up and speak frankly (which took me back a little at first), but I’ve found that when we embody these behaviours and allow all voices to be heard our environments naturally lend themselves to being more collaborative and efficient. 

ISG Construction graduate Alex Riley in High vis looking at plans on table

3. The future is inclusive

Before joining the industry, I was apprehensive that values and behaviours were going to be old fashioned, but it’s not the case.

Every year I’m seeing more diverse talent reaching senior leadership roles, which is so inspiring and exciting to see. ISG has been particularly great at progressing women and apprentices throughout various specialisms across the business, and I hope to see this continue to evolve across the wider industry as whole.

4. You can work at a big company and not feel like a cog in the machine

Despite ISG being one of the biggest contractors in the UK, I’ve been really impressed with the workplace benefits that allow employees to feel cared for and tailored to, and this approach is mirrored with our clients.

The office-based projects I’ve worked on have proved that businesses are now placing more emphasis on providing areas to relax and be sociable in, with open-plan space for collaboration and – by contrast – smaller and more intimate locations for space and privacy. Making the corporate home somewhere that works for everyone.

5. It’s a great time to work with the retail industry

The retail industry is continuously changing. High street stores are increasingly becoming bolder in their aesthetics, breathing vibrancy and life into the British high street and creating spaces that encapsulate the brand in new ways. The finishes are technical and detailed, and the space you hand over is more like that of an art gallery than a store.

User experience and how we connect with one another in person in a digital age has never been more important. This provides an exciting opportunity for retail clients because the essence and sentiment of what high street shopping means is changing, and spaces need to be unique to drive footfall.

Group of people playing cards

In a small village like Corbridge, the right career opportunity can be a hard find. That was true for Amber, who had a passion unfulfilled, until now.

Amber Robinson, Corbridge Youth Initiative, Corbridge, UK

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