Careers Built From The Ground Up

At McPhillips we invest heavily in people, staff development and career opportunities are fundamental to our success. Central to this ethos is the McPhillips Apprenticeship Programme.

We have run an apprenticeship programme since 1995 and are delighted that Luke Courtnell and Charlie Watts are the latest to join the long list of people who have come out the other side to begin their careers within the construction industry at McPhillips.

Luke 21 and Charlie 18 joined us from sixth form and school respectively in 2019. What should have been a 2 year programme was interrupted by COVID lockdowns and  restrictions elongating their time as apprentices to 3 years. Luke thinks this has actually been a blessing in disguise…

“During the first 6 months of our apprenticeship we’d have 1 week at college / 3 weeks on site, because of COVID restrictions. We also had a sixth month period of just being on site, before going back to the 1 week on / 3 weeks off college format.

“This worked out better in my opinion because when you were at college for the week you would learn something and have that study time to process the information, whereas if it had been one day a week at college by the next session you may have forgotten what you’d learnt.”

Both apprentices have gained NVQ Level 2 in Construction Operations along with industry tickets in dust management, CAT and Genny operation and both dumper and roller. Throughout their apprenticeship Luke and Charlie have enjoyed working on a variety of job sites throughout the Midlands and can appreciate the progress they have made. Charlie explains…

“It’s nice that other team members now come to me for advice, it could be a drainage question or the like. These are people who were there before me and it proves just how far I’ve come.”

For Luke it’s also a knowledge thing… ”The satisfaction is seeing what the team has achieved and knowing that I’ve been a part of it. Also understanding the work to the point that I can now find solutions to problems without having to ask anyone.”

The programme has enabled Luke and Charlie to earn a competitive wage which has allowed both the opportunity of treating themselves to their dream cars. However, it’s not just about the spoils, there is a career path at McPhillips for those who want to progress and having had a flavour of what’s on offer they’re raring to go…

Luke…”I can see myself perhaps becoming a foreman and then naturally progressing into site management.”

Charlie…”I would like to be a machine operator, but I am also interested in the work of a quantity surveyor, so who knows where this might lead?”

Apprentices who complete the programme often cite examples where they have brought an aspect of what they have learnt at work into their everyday life. Luke and Charlie agree with this as first Luke tells us…

“Discipline for sure, also perseverance. If ever you run into issues on site it forces you to think of a solution, if I find myself struggling with something outside of work, I get into ‘work mode’ and ask myself ‘how would I go about this if I was at work? It makes my life ten times easier. I feel like I can achieve anything.”

For Charlie it’s a confidence thing… “Before I started my apprenticeship I kept myself to myself and even when I first joined I would avoid speaking to people at all costs. However, I’ve become one of the lads and enjoy the banter, I’m also not afraid to ask anyone for help. It’s given me the confidence to try anything.”

Luke and Charlie would recommend an apprenticeship with McPhillips, Luke sums up on behalf of both…

“The apprenticeship at McPhillips gives you a solid foundation for a successful career in civil engineering / building. It’s enjoyable, we’ve made some good friends as well as learning many skills which will serve us now and in the future.”

McPhillips Managing Director Paul Inions is delighted that two more apprentices have completed the programme…”The change in Luke and Charlie over the last 3 years is great to see, they have gone from boys who wouldn’t say boo to a goose into confident young men.

“It’s a proud moment for us particularly when you look at the investment we make not only financially but personally, the team of people here behind the scenes is a bit like the team behind a Formula 1 car, all doing their bit to help our apprentices succeed. We look forward to doing it all again with the next intake in a few weeks time…”

About the McPhillips Apprenticeship Programme

Our structured apprenticeship programme is designed to enable young people to develop the skills and knowledge required to realise their full potential. McPhillips apprentices fulfil genuine roles within our company and receive a competitive wage whilst also studying for a qualification at college. Since 1995 well over 100 people have successfully completed the programme, over 20% of our direct workforce began life with McPhillips as apprentices. For more information visit: or contact:


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