Gareth Meadows is a quantity surveyor for Kier Regional Building North and Scotland. Here, he talks about his experiences as a mature student while working at Kier full-time.

“After finishing my GCSEs, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. To buy myself some time, I did my A-levels, and through conversations with several people working in construction, I decided that was the industry I wanted to work in.

I secured employment with a small family run company, working and training to be quantity surveyor. Unfortunately, after a few years the recession hit, and I was made redundant.

Finding new employment was a challenge, and I had to diversify. My new job involved the procurement of specialist goods for blue-chip companies in the engineering industry, but career progression is important to me, and when I realised there were limited opportunities in the business, I moved to a procurement role elsewhere.

I soon decided to re-join the construction industry, and found a role with Kier as a sub-contract buyer. I knew Kier from working in the industry before, and jumped at the chance to work here.

I firmly believe that working in the construction industry means you will never do the same job twice, meaning a constant growth in learning new things. I picked up heaps of knowledge over the next few years, and Kier gave me the opportunity to move into the commercial team as an assistant quantity surveyor, on the condition that I agreed to attend university, which Kier offered to fund. I never considered this as an option after leaving school.

My wife and I had recently had a baby and I didn’t want to be away from home for extended periods of time, so I was pleased to be able to attend a course locally, which fitted in with my family life.”

I attended university on day release. It was an accelerated course, meaning a standard three-year course was condensed into two years. Meanwhile, I obtained valuable experience as assistant quantity surveyor on Kier’s York Street project.

I managed my studies around work, a new baby, and moving house in the middle of it all. I am now awaiting a first-class honours degree, and can’t tell you how proud I am!

I’ve got the bug now. I’m enrolled in the RICS assessment of professional competence, and would love to take a Master’s course in construction law next. I’ll also be managing my first project as a quantity surveyor soon, and it’s an exciting time.

If you’re looking for a job that’s challenging and rewarding, you can’t go wrong with the construction industry. The constant change keeps me on my toes, and there’s so much to strive for in terms of job progression that I’m continually pushing to the next level.

Before I joined Kier, I’d written further education off, and certainly never thought I would attend university. I was nervous when Kier gave me the opportunity to go to university, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

And now, as the first person in the family to get a degree, I have bragging rights over my siblings!”