One thing you notice very quickly on joining Solomons Europe – we never stand still! After recruiting our first cohort of four to undertake our specially developed MSc in Quantity Surveying apprenticeship ‘plus' programme, we’re now on the hunt for talented, driven and passionate duo to take up vacancies in our Cumbria and North East teams.
But first things first… Just what, exactly, is a Quantity Surveyor?
Quantity Surveyors (QS) are basically the accountants and lawyers for construction and engineering projects. It’s their job to work alongside the Project Manager to ensure that a project is delivered successfully on time, and on budget - simple as that! Well not really. In fact, far easier said than done…
What do we do?
Construction and engineering projects can be highly complex, with multiple unknowns and many risks. They require constant guardianship to try to forecast and resolve issues before they arise, and to work to find solutions when unforeseen complications crop up.
Keeping the project on track financially and ensuring that contract duties are discharged fully requires resilience, imagination and optimism! As a QS, you need to try to get the project team to work together to do all of this stuff, whilst maintaining the time and cost schedules that were set at the start of the project. This is because clients do not like to start out with a figure of how much their project will cost, only to find out that cost doubles and they don’t get the keys to their shiny new facility when they thought they would!
The role of a QS is without doubt challenging. We need to operate the contract mechanisms appropriately to keep the parties on track, and should be clear on who should be doing what and by when. Crucially, we also need to know our budgets, and who should be paying for what and why.
Construction and engineering projects are unique, no two sites are exactly the same. You will always find different problems, and as a QS your resourcefulness and rigour is essential in keeping the team on track to achieve successful project completion.
There is no sugar coating it, it’s a tough job, and takes dedication and passion. But it’s also a highly rewarding and exciting career when you get onboard!
Our professional journey
In the mid nineties as technology was evolving, a lot of industry commentators predicted the death of Quantity Surveying as a profession. But actually they couldn’t have been further from the truth. OK, fair enough, we were no longer often required to "survey quantities", but we evolved to offer an even more essential service to the ever growing construction and engineering sectors. We had to adapt, and adapt quickly…and now we are more in demand than ever.
Quantity Surveyors are survivors and gamechangers, and our profession is known, respected and valued now more than it ever was. To stay at the top of our game, we need to learn new things all the time – and we do!
So what skills do you need to be a QS? To become a good QS, first and foremost you need to be adaptable. Yes, enthusiasm, curiosity, and eye for detail and numbers and a real desire to be part of the UK construction and engineering sector is obviously helpful, but if you are adaptable and open to new learning you will never go far wrong.
The sectors we specialise in are critical to all our futures – power, transport, infrastructure, health and pharmaceutical. These sectors innovate and evolve with society’s needs and those needs are constantly changing.
Of course, there will always be a need to understand the project mechanisms, its stakeholders and the way the jigsaw of information, trades and people is intended to come together…and it will always be the job of a QS to hold project players to account, financially and contractually. Money and time matter – a lot! So clients will always want people in their teams to keep an eye on these things to ensure everyone is accountable for their role in ensuring successful project outcomes.
An eye for detail, an ability to analyse and assimilate multiple sources of information, good communication and networking skills and a positive, determined outlook are essential too.
Why join us as an MSc Apprentice?
We understand that when you come out of University, it might not have been your first thought to seek out an SME to work for. In fact you’ve probably been guided to do the complete opposite through your career journey so far. But we are proud to be an SME.
As an SMEs we are small and mighty. We are a business with the exact same agility as you will need to have in your career as a QS. We’ve been through three recessions in our two decades in business, and kept our QS team intact each time. We adapt and we improve and we get stuff done.
We set ourselves challenges and have the structure to make changes happen quickly….very quickly! We believe this means we can stay ahead of the curve, constantly evolving and flexing to meet the ever changing demands of our clients. We are at the coal face and see the realities early, which mean we can make quick decisions to adapt and change to stay ahead of the curve.
So, what’s different about starting a career with us? We care. We have a dedicated People and Performance Team who work with every single person in the business to progress their personal career development plan. We never hold people back and wait for a vacancy to come up. If you’ve developed your skills to the next level, then we create a new role for you. We are a people business, and our people are our business.
We have demanding jobs. We need to look out for each other and step up to the plate when someone needs a hand. We are proud of our people and their commitment to their colleages and our clients, and we value and support them...all of them. They are the face of our business, our brand, our reputation. So that means we are picky.
And we look for more than good exam results and qualifications – we hire on attitude. We give our people the freedom to challenge themselves and bring new ideas to fruition.
Working for an SME means you are seen as an individual, visible, a real person. If you do great stuff, it will get noticed. You will not be a number in Solomons, you will always be a name.
How does our MSc apprenticeship ‘plus’ programme work?
If you make it through our rigerous recruitment process, you’ll start a Level 6, MSc Quantity Surveying Apprenticeship straight away. On completing a two-year MSc Quantity Surveying course, you’ll embark on a final nine-month leg leading to an MRICS End Point Assessment and review. If successful, you’ll secure much-coveted chartership – something that can typically take upwards of five years to achieve.
Straight forward enough, but the road there is tough and winding, just as much as it will be rewarding. We could write hundreds of words on how it works, but that won’t help anyone. Instead, download the very colourful and handy roadmap document below and see what your bright new future could look like.
And if this has whetted your appetite then don't delay. Download the apprentice 'plus' programme roadmap below to see how it all works. And don't delay. Click here to learn more and apply.