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What’s it really like to do an apprenticeship at Walker Sime?

Apprenticeship Joe Lamb

“I’m in a very different world to a lot of people I know my age.”

At 15, Joe Lamb was unsure of his career plans. Today, he’s carving his own future with Walker Sime, thanks to a Quantity Surveying apprenticeship.

Joe Lamb was just 15 years old when he first bumped into our Director of People & Culture, Caz Rennie, at a school Careers Fair.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” he recalls. “I was interested in maths and thinking, vaguely, about a role in engineering. Walker Sime sounded interesting and Quantity Surveying was maths-related. Caz told me about the apprenticeships on offer and suggested I try some work experience to see if it was for me. I went straight home and fetched my dad back for a chat!”

Over the next two years, Joe spent some of each half-term at our offices. “I’d be given a drawing to mark up, perhaps working out the floor area of a building and calculating how much carpet it would need. I enjoyed it.”

As college approached its end (Joe was studying maths, French, and History), we offered him a job.

“That’s what I’d set my sights on,” he says. “I hadn’t even applied for university because I was set on working for Walker Sime. When I got the call, I was sat in my grandma’s garden in France. That was a good day.”


Coming Aboard

Joe accepted the job in September and was enrolled on a Quantity Surveying degree almost immediately. “It’s not like your typical uni course,” Joe says. “I was going in once a week and working the rest of the time while my mates lived at uni, although I reckon we had about the same amount of lecture time.”

Saving tens of thousands of pounds in tuition fees wasn’t the only benefit of taking his degree via an apprenticeship. “I’ve spent a long time in a work environment now,” he says. “My friends are only just starting their careers but I’ve got my degree [a 2:1], and developed hands-on experience and familiarity with the working environment at the same time.”

“I was in Edinburgh on Friday working on a new office development in the city centre. I wouldn’t be visiting those places and doing that work if I hadn’t had the practical, as well as uni experience, my apprenticeship gave me.”


Still Learning

Joe values the time spent learning from the team’s Principal and Senior Quantity Surveyors. “They show you the level you’re aiming for,” he explains. “They set the standard for meeting client needs, show you how to conduct yourself in meetings and give you the tools and protocols to tackle the different issues that occur with every project.”

He remains, for the moment, a Trainee Quantity Surveyor — but not for much longer. “We’re discussing losing the ‘Trainee’ bit now,” Joe laughs, and his sights are now set on RICS accreditation. Once qualified, he’ll be able to lead client conversations, rather than simply being part of them.

“I guess it’s a bit like a driving licence,” he says. “Having my degree and work experience is a little like being able to drive on a provisional licence. The RICS accreditation will prove I can do it.”


Put Yourself Out There

What advice would Joe offer to other 15-year-olds thinking about their future, but unsure of which route to take? “Put yourself out there,” he says. “I think that’s what impresses most people. Try things out. Ask questions. Show interest. Just getting your name known makes you stand out among potential employers.”


A Different World

How has Joe’s apprenticeship changed him? “I think I’m definitely more responsible and mature than I would have been,” he says. “An apprenticeship exposes you to experiences others don’t have. They may have had the traditional university experience — and I didn’t get that — but I’ve been exposed to things they haven’t.

“I’ve been thrown into a very different world compared to a lot of people I know my age. I’ve got more of a sense of the real world than I did three years ago.”

To explore apprenticeship opportunities with Walker Sime, please contact Caz Rennie (

For nationwide multi-disciplinary construction consultancy, including Quantity Surveying, Project Management, Infrastructure Services, Construction Design Management, Bill of Quantities and more, call us on 0161 872 9955, email or message us here.