Studied Carpentry and Joinery at B&FC • Graduated in 2007
With three small children and little disposable income when Caz Cartmell wanted to renovate her home she took a carpentry and joinery evening course at B&FC to learn how. She had been interested in woodwork at high school but wasn't allowed to take it as a GCSE subject because she was a “girl”.
Caz went on to complete a HND at B&FC and later a first-class honours degree in quantity surveying and has since worked as a project manager and quantity surveyer on some major projects, including at Heysham Power Station.
After completing her initial course at B&FC, for which she was nominated as Student of the Year, Caz decided to move into the construction industry - but competition for a role in the workplace was fierce. She gained employment at B&Q, learning about the industry from the retail side.
Caz said: “In the B&Q store I would find that people would often ignore me and speak to the male assistants, even though I was the qualified joiner. It didn’t deter me. In fact it used to make me laugh.”
Local building firm, David Flynn, offered Caz an apprenticeship where she built on the skills and knowledge gained at B&FC.
Caz says the advantage of starting out with a smaller company meant she was able to gain experience in a wide range of general building activities, getting involved in all aspects of the build from setting out the foundations of a new extension, to pouring the concrete. She learnt on the job, topping up her skills by attending night school classes in brickwork, plumbing and plastering.
With this knowledge under her belt, Caz set up her own business, thriving at project managing schemes and organising sub-contractors. She was invited back to the College to teach and pass on her knowledge.
A HND seemed the natural progression, which she undertook while spending time teaching. It was then she found out about a quantity surveying job through her lecturer. She attended the interview and was successful.
Caz added: “I started working for a local developer. We created new-build apartments, sold off plan and refurbished small rental properties. I loved the role so much that it encouraged me to continue my studies and go on to do my quantity surveying degree."
Following her degree, Caz went on to become a quantity surveyor at Heysham Power Station before beginning her current role as quantity surveyor and contracts manager for design and construction company, Amspec. Here she runs projects from start to finish ensuring they come in on time, to the best quality and within budget.
My Most Recent Role...
Quantity Surveyor and Contracts Manager for design and construction company, Amspec
How B&FC Helped Me
On joining her course at B&FC, Caz found she was the only female of the course. But this didn't discourage her and she went on to be nominated as Student of the Year by her tutors for her dedication to her studies.
Personal development has always been high on Caz’s agenda but recognition for a job well done is what motivates her.
Caz said: “Winning Student of the Year was quite a proud moment for me as was achieving my first class honours degree. But every time I stand back and look at a project I’ve been involved in once it has been completed I can say, I did that.”
From starting out taking an evening joinery course at B&FC to completing her HND and teaching at the College, Caz has used the skills she learnt at B&FC throughout her career and has gone on to pass that knowledge on to others.
Caz added: "I enjoyed the first year at College so much that I enrolled the next year on two further day-release courses. The staff were extremely helpful and even offered me a part-time position to work as a technician in the joinery department.
“They guided me and helped with my skills, career options, my CV, and even put me in touch with a local building company who took me on as an apprentice. They also encourage progression into management courses following completion of my NVQs, which was a path I hadn't considered.
"I also won several awards throughout my time at the College, including a Student of the Year award. The awards helped encourage me more to succeed."
“Winning Student of the Year was quite a proud moment for me as was achieving my first-class honours degree. But every time I stand back and look at a project I’ve been involved in once it has been completed I can say, I did that.” - Caz Cartmell