Reggie O’Donoghue tells Construction News the risk of losing his Building Lives apprenticeship has put his career ambitions on hold.
“When I got on to this course I had goals set in my head, like this is where I want to be this year, this is where I want to be the year after that,” 18-year-old Reggie says.
“When you get told there is a funding cut, that puts a hold on your future; it puts a hold on the here and now, and on [what I imagined for] the next 10 to 20 years.”
After school, Reggie started a full-time college course in football, but dropped out after a year because it “wasn’t really going anywhere”.
“I had to change up my plans to get somewhere, and that’s how I found Building Lives.
“By getting a trade behind me, an NVQ Level 2, it doesn’t just set me up for a year or two, it sets me up for the next 20 years, next 30 years.”
“[No funding] means I’ve got to come off what I’m doing, go into something new, and pretty much start all over again, when I’ve already started again”
Reggie says a traineeship in drylining with Building Lives was more appealing to him than enrolling on a construction course at college because of the practical elements and promise of onsite experience.
“It gets me ready for when I do pass [the course]. So when I go out on site, I won’t be like, ‘What’s this and what’s that?’
“I’ll already know and I’ll be straight in there ready to go, straight into working life.”
Two weeks into his traineeship, Reggie found out that there may not be any funding for his apprenticeship.
He says he is worried he will have to start over again on a new course, but has not lost his motivation to get into the construction industry.
“I like to take my life by steps, I like to progress.
“By getting a trade behind me, an NVQ Level 2, it doesn’t just set me up for a year or two, it sets me up for the next 20 years, next 30 years”
“When you get told that there could be cuts, that means I’ve got to come off what I’m doing, go into something new, and pretty much start all over again, when I’ve already started again.
“I want to get myself into a trade. I don’t want to think, because one thing went wrong, I’m not getting into construction.”
Reggie hopes enough funding will be raised to help him and others on his course, but he would also like to see Building Lives expand to help others.
“It’s only a small charity [but] if it was bigger across London I reckon it’d be a big opportunity for a lot of kids.
“Personally for me, I wouldn’t have joined this course if it wasn’t so local to me. If these academies are more local to people, it gives them an opportunity to jump on.”
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