Apprentice Diary with Kai Ginifer

Hi, I’m Kai Ginifer and I’m an apprentice with McPhillips. I’ve agreed to write a diary about what it’s like being an apprentice and hope that it might inspire others to check out this route into construction.

I’ve been with McPhillips for over a year. As an apprentice I spend 3 weeks a month on site and 1 week at Telford College studying towards an NVQ Level 2 in Construction Operations.

I’m still working on the Dudley Road Improvement Scheme in Birmingham. I’ve now done my first tarmacking. At first, I had to load the tarmac into the dumper and then poured it evenly along the path. Next, I used a shovel and rake to drag it across the pavement and used the roller to flatten and smooth it out.

I had to ensure it was 25mm below kerb level as this was only base tarmac not topping. Due to lamp posts, signs and various bollards which were in the way, we used the wacker and hand-tamp to flatten the tarmac in areas unreachable with the roller.

At college we completed our ‘off the job’ to add to our portfolio. I uploaded photos of work I’ve completed in and out of college, these workings go towards our final grade and demonstrate our knowledge of the work we’ve completed.

We completed a test on traffic management knowledge, skills and behaviours. We also had to take a general knowledge test on everything we’ve learnt in college so far. Which is quite a lot!

Kai Ginifer on JCB roller

Back on site, we began block paving another hole which was already backfilled. We levelled out the sand for the blocks to sit correctly at kerb height, cleaned off the blocks whilst taking them off the pallets, this prevents any dirt from widening the gaps between blocks.

I assisted the training engineer to light up manholes on the phase 1 area to take pictures and depth measurements for documentations. The training engineer showed me round the site explaining the work left to complete.

It was an enjoyable day laying stone as a base for the new compound. I had to direct five wagons to dump the stone into the compound, this was great practice for working towards my banksman ticket. Then I levelled the stone and flattened it with the roller. One hundred tons was laid during this day followed by another 40 the following day.

kai ginifer on tarmac duty

Back at college we did some concreting for the Head of Groundworks. He had already dug out a large rectangular hole on a big stoned area and made a shutter ready. Henry (another McPhillips apprentice) and I, alongside another college groundworks student, worked together to mix up some concrete using the mixer and poured into the shutter.

After carting around 15 barrows full, enough concrete was mixed to fill the entire shutter, which we then levelled out with a shovel, tamped it down with a spare piece of timber, trowelled it to finish and the used bullnose trowel for the edges.

I went to our site in Telford for Bruderer (we’re building a manufacturing facility for them) to take my banksman course. We ran through some basic theory before putting it in to practice with the help of a machine driver on site, finished off by completing a I2 mark test.

Kai ginifer with angle grinder

Back in Birmingham, over the course of 6 days, we raised iron works on every part of the main road and side roads. We used a stringline from the kerb to a 160mm block up in the road to check the levels. Then we used epoxy resin and packers to set the correct levels. We did this for all types of covers – manholes, fire hydrants, loop sockets, gullies etc. I think we did roughly 60 iron works in total.

I’m still really enjoying the variety of work that I’m getting involved with on site and the tasks we’re set at college.

I look forward to sharing more of my experiences with you next time.


Latest News