Seeing is Believing

The Wates ‘Seeing is Believing’ Tour came to Leeds on the 24th March, hosted by SEUK and sponsored by leading social housing maintenance provider, Wates Living Space. The tour provided an introduction to a range of social enterprises working across Leeds and an opportunity to find out more about local social businesses and the social value they create. Director, Catherine Bishop shared the journey of Futureworks Yorkshire to date, proudly introducing George Foster, one of our 70 apprentices who is currently ‘hosted’ by Wates to share his thoughts on apprenticeships. Find out more about the event here.


If you weren’t there, to give you an idea as to how George has found his career journey so far, he has contributed the following blog this month:


“I have been a technical apprentice for over 6 months now. I am on work placement with Wates construction and I’m currently working on Castleton primary school in Leeds. This, so far, has been a great opportunity that I have enjoyed throughout, primarily because of the amount of experience I have gained.


“Before I started the apprenticeship I was at college full time and working part-time. This was not something I was enjoying as I was unhappy with the way I was learning at college.  This gave me more motivation to find an apprenticeship in construction.  I wanted to have the opportunity to do a job I would enjoy and have the chance to develop my skills as well as learn something new each day.


“I started my apprenticeship back in August of 2016. I had finished my first year of college and was in a summer job I was not enjoying. As I had already had a year in college studying construction I had some basic knowledge. My first few weeks were great, I was learning something new every day, I had been given the chance to see how a site is run and how the site team work to excel the project. This is something I would not have learned in the classroom.


“Having a placement with Wates has been extraordinary – it really is seeing is believing. I have been given the chance to work with one of the biggest construction companies in the UK. I have also gained experience in multiple roles in the construction industry. I have had the chance to work alongside the site engineer, which was a great experience. I was able to work with the site manager at the start and increase my overall knowledge of construction. I have also worked with the site and project surveyor. This has been what I have enjoyed most. The site team have acknowledged it is an area I am interested in and they have given me more and more experience.


“When I was asked to take part in a presentation and talk about my experience as an apprentice with Furtureworks Yorkshire and Wates I was a bit nervous but up for the challenge. I’m not usually the type of person who can give confident presentations in front of big audiences, but I was given a lot of support by Catherine Bishop, who is one of the directors for Futureworks. With her support I was able to prepare for the presentation and make some key notes. I was also given support by the site team and given some time to practice.


“The morning started off with networking with everyone who was at the event. I recognised a few people from Wates but was able to meet new people from different companies and organisations as well. I was introduced to Catherine after sending emails to her all week. The event was hosted at a social enterprise space ‘Shine’,  in Harehills.  They gave a small introduction about what they do and how they’ve worked with the community to offer new opportunities to people.


“Our presentation began with Catherine talking about Futureworks Yorkshire, the history of and journey to date, sharing the variety of apprenticeships available and the range of placements and ‘host’ employers  they work with.  I was able to learn more about how Futureworks Yorkshire was set-up and what its goals are. I hadn’t appreciated and was surprised to learn Futureworks Yorkshire is a social enterprise and therefore not set out to make as much profit as possible, but instead to offer great opportunities to people that want to start a career. I think this is important and what being a social enterprise is all about.


“When my cue came up I was a bit nervous but there wasn’t much I could do. I surprised myself with my performance. I was expecting to run through all my points too quick and end up being unable to remember what to say. Instead I was able to talk through most of my points and didn’t race through them either.  I also felt like I had accomplished something that day – without notes!  


“Overall the day was a great experience, being able to meet new people and also Catherine. It was also a good chance for me to work on one of my weaknesses, which is something I can put on my CV. The day was good fun and the hosts were great. I think my key message to others would be to face your challenges as you never know what you will gain from them. I am pleased I did.” George Foster