It’s no secret that the construction industry is suffering a skills shortage. Here at Sika we recognise this problem and see apprenticeships as a great solution: people can be trained in specific practical skills and technical knowledge and make for enthusiastic, loyal employees, often bringing ambition and fresh insight to companies and the industry as a whole. To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we asked our very own bright spark Jack Finley, 19, a few questions about his Sika apprenticeship in Roofing…

Jack Finley, Sika Roofing Apprentice
Image: Jack Finley, Sika Roofing Apprentice

1. What does your role at Sika involve?

I work in technical services for Sika, specialising in roofing products. When area sales managers undertake roof surveys and need specifications creating or expert advice on projects, they get in touch with our department. We are also available to give technical advice on our products to anyone who needs it. My job is to ensure we specify the perfect product for each project, taking factors such as wind uplift, thermal efficiency and humidity into account.

Initially I spent time in multiple departments across the business, including sales, order processing, customer services, technical services and applications, which gave me a great all-round understanding of the business. But as time went on, Sika tailored my role to my skills and my role changed from business administration apprentice to technical services apprentice.

2. How did you get this opportunity?

Once I finished college I knew I didn’t want to go to university, so I started looking into apprenticeships. I went to the Lancashire Apprenticeship Expo and my parents encouraged me to approach Sika because it’s a giant in the construction industry.

I gave Sika Liquid Plastics’ technical advisor Michael Raymond my CV and chatted about the position – with no idea I’d be sitting next to him just a few months later…

A fortnight on, Sika’s HR team called me to arrange an interview and I haven’t looked back since! I’ve settled in quickly thanks to all my colleagues being so welcoming and happy to help.  

3. What is your opinion of apprenticeships and internships?

They’re amazing and such a good way to get ahead of peers studying at university.
Everyone says I’ve landed on my feet and I completely agree. Now my friends have heard about my time at Sika, they keep asking if I can get them apprenticeships here too!

4. Does Sika offer anything different to other apprenticeships?

I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere, but Sika is really invested in the personal and professional development of their employees.

They arranged for all technical services employees, as well as many other staff members within different departments at Sika Roofing, to take the Institute of Roofing’s Associate Level course. This has made our technical knowledge consistent across the team so we can confidently serve customers with better industry insight. I’m the youngest person in the industry to hold the accreditation!

Another great thing at Sika is that all employees have access to a range of training courses. Just think of something you lack confidence in, search for it on the HR system and enroll on a training course. It’s a great way to make sure you stay at the top of your game.  

5. Why did you want the opportunity?

Sika is a big company with a big reputation. It’s great to get my foot in the door so I’ll, hopefully, secure a permanent position once my 18 months as an apprentice is over. I’m learning, I’m earning and I get a qualification at the end of it. What more could you want?

6. What effect do you think your apprenticeship will have on your career?

A massive one. In fact it already has, as I had no idea of the opportunities available to me in construction. I now have valuable industry knowledge that my peers don’t. Plus I’ve experienced team working within a large, global company like Sika aged 19.

7. What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love the variety in what I do. Each day is different and I don’t think anyone else does the same thing everyday either. Within my short time here, work has taken me to London, Newcastle and Birmingham, to name a few places, and every experience is unique.

8. What are the greatest challenges of your role?

Pitching ideas to senior figures in the company. Initially it was difficult to view them as other people rather than figureheads. However, as time has gone on and my confidence within my role has grown, I am now more than comfortable with everyone here at Sika and have great relationships with many senior employees. Public speaking was also something I struggled with before my apprenticeship. Sika put me through a great course to help with that and now I’m thriving in team meetings and presentations.

9. Do you have any goals in mind for the future?

The short-term goal I’m focusing on is to secure a full-time position at Sika once my apprenticeship ends in February 2019.

10. Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into the construction industry?

Completely forget what you think you know about the industry: hi-vis and hard hats are only 1% of it. There’s so many ways you can be involved, from finance and marketing to sales and product management. You can specialise in more or less anything at Sika!