Joe's studies lay the foundation for new career
A Construction Management student at Wrexham Glyndwr University has put his learning to the test on a major project providing a Flintshire community with a state-of-the-art new school.
Joe Hackney, from Cefn y Bedd, combines his studies at Glyndwr with a role as an Assistant Site Manager for leading construction firm Wynne Construction.
His most recent project has been working on Ysgol Penyffordd, a newly-constructed school which will serve the Flintshire village and which will welcome its first pupils this month after it was completed earlier this summer.
Having begun his studies in a bid to improve his career prospects, Joe found himself his new role after attending an event at the university where students on Glyndwr’s Construction Management and Built Environment courses could meet firms working in the construction sector across the region.
He said: “I was working full time when I approached Glyndwr University – I wasn’t happy with the job I was doing then, so I applied to go on a full time course. The event in the Catrin Finch centre on campus involved 20 different construction companies, and Wynne were one of them. There were opportunities to do mock interviews with them – and also the chance to secure a work placement. I put in for a work placement and managed to get one in June 2018.
“After one week of work experience, I got a phone call from Chris Wynne, the company’s Managing Director - he said he had had very good feedback and asked me to come and meet him for an informal chat.
“I went along, took a copy of my CV just in case – and after our chat, he offered me a job there and then!
Joe is now working for Wynne three days a week during term time, and spending two days on his studies.
He added: “I’m an assistant manager – that means it’s my role to help out with the running of the entire construction site. I do a lot of paperwork, liaise
with labourers, liaise with clients and contractors, and of course there is a lot of health and safety work on construction sites too. That means keeping on top of things and making sure that everyone on site is working safely.
“The new school is one we have been working on to have ready for the new term this month. I haven’t been based at this site throughout, but I did work experience here and then found myself coming back once I’d secured a job with Wynne.
“It has been great watching the project develop to a point where the school is ready – and now I am looking forward to what we are going to do next.
Joe is also keen to encourage others like him – who may not have conventional qualifications but who have built up skills and knowledge over their working life – to consider applying to university to boost their career prospects.
He said: “I have worked in the building and construction industry since I left school – I am originally a joiner by trade. For someone like me, who doesn’t have two UCAS points to rub together, you might think twice about applying to university – but Glyndwr worked with me and I actually got an unconditional offer based on my experience. They could have turned me away if they didn’t like my experience, but they didn’t – and now I am on track for a first.
“It is hard graft – but I know my academic work is being recognised by the university. Wynne have been very accommodating of my studies – they have also put a lot of faith in me and they have given me a lot of help too – they have been very good in what is a full-time industry.
“My job has definitely helped with my studies – that’s for sure. It helps what I am doing on site is also what I am learning about at university. In the same way, my studies have definitely helped with my job – each plays to the other’s strengths.”
Senior Lecturer in Built Environment at Wrexham Glyndwr University, David Cheesbrough, added: “Our degrees are designed to equip students like Joe with the skills they need to progress in their career – and it has been great watching him do exactly that with his role at Wynne Construction.
“Since beginning his studies with us, Joe has not only used the opportunities the course offers to land himself a new role – he’s also applied the skills he learnt with us to that role – and helped develop cutting-edge educational facilities for one of our local communities.”