Painter and decorator Ben Hicks tells Construction News how Building Lives helped get him back into work after an operation.
After leaving school, Ben Hicks started work as a painter and decorator.
But following an injury, he was out of work for two years until Building Lives helped him with the training he needed to get back into the construction industry.
“I had an operation on my leg, which put me out of work for a year,” he says.
“Then I was on Jobseekers’ Allowance for another year, and [the Job Centre] put me on to the Building Lives course.”
“Building Lives was really important to me; without them, I wouldn’t be in the construction trade now”
Ben says he struggled to find work on his own because he did not have any formal qualifications, either from school or in a trade.
“To get into the construction trade now you need at least NVQ Level 1, which I didn’t have.
“Building Lives was really important to me; without them, I wouldn’t be in the construction trade now.”
Ben did his apprenticeship with Rydon in 2013 on the redevelopment of a Hackbridge council estate in Sutton, south London.
As part of the multi-skilled apprenticeship, he worked with different subcontractors to do carpentry, plumbing and decorating.
“[My job has] allowed me to go out and do things with my son and daughter, whereas before I just didn’t have the money to”
His final placement was with AW Decorators, which took him on when he completed the apprenticeship in April 2014 and for which he still works now.
Ben says getting a stable, full-time job has given him greater financial independence and means he can do more with his children.
“It’s allowed me to go out and do things with my son and daughter, whereas before I just didn’t have the money to.
“If you stick at [the training course] like I did, you end up somewhere.”
Although Ben already had experience of painting and decorating, he re-took his English and maths GCSEs with Building Lives to improve his grades – and his confidence.
“I was useless at the paper side of things; but now I can go up to someone and know what I’m actually talking about,” he says.
“[Having the qualifications] gives you confidence in yourself, because you know what you’re talking about, and it gives other people confidence that you’re not talking rubbish to them.”
With the experience he is gaining on the job and in business and managing contracts, Ben hopes he will one day be able to start his own decorating business.