Two aspiring quantity surveyors from Tees Valley are on the road to their chosen career thanks to a unique apprenticeship scheme developed by an expanding Hartlepool practice.

Ryan Dodds, aged 23, from Darlington and 27 year old Josh Brown from Middlesbrough are now members of the fast-growing team at Solomons Europe, based at UK Steel Enterprise’s Innovation Centre on the Queens Meadow Business Park.

They are the first two North East candidates to win places on the company’s Accelerated Quantity Surveying Pathway (AQSP).

Solomons Europe, a chartered quantity surveying practice, works with blue-chip companies and major contractors in the nuclear, oil and gas, petrochemical, energy, chemical, pharmaceutical and process industries and is involved with some of the largest projects in the UK.

With their head office near Warrington and a special projects office in Cumbria, its Hartlepool office was set up by Director Ian Hedley in May 2014 and has gone from strength to strength, quadrupling its office space to accommodate the current 17-strong team of qualified quantity surveyors.

“Our team has grown rapidly since we arrived,” said Ian Hedley. “The UK Steel Enterprise team is always supportive, especially when we need to take on more space. The facilities here couldn’t be better and the location gives us good access around the region.”

As well as taking on the two apprentices, Solomons has now taken over yet another office at the Innovation Centre to provide a dedicated space for in-house training, coaching and meetings.

For Josh Brown, quantity surveying was not his original career plan though it is one that has turned out to be a perfect role for him.

“Originally I completed a degree in aviation technology with plans to become a pilot but a minor eye problem meant I didn’t pass a medical at the last hurdle. Fortunately, through helping out in a family property development business, I discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed construction and cost management.

“I was worried about the expense of taking a second degree in quantity surveying but, luckily, I came across Solomons’ AQSP and it is brilliant. I have been involved in practical work from the start and the company couldn’t be more supportive or encouraging. It has turned out to be the perfect place for me.”

Director Ian Hedley said: “The AQSP is a five year programme we have developed to help provide the skills and qualified surveyors we will need in the future as we continue to expand.

“Our apprentices will qualify as chartered quantity surveyors with MRICS status. The programme includes a high level of practical work and in-house mentoring and, as they are on our payroll, it is a very cost-effective way to qualify.”

Joan Cook of UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business support subsidiary, said “Solomons Europe is really well established at our Innovation Centre now and it’s been great seeing the team grow since that first day. We recognise that businesses need us to be as flexible as possible when it comes to providing extra office or workshop space. Our support is always aimed at allowing companies to concentrate on growing their core business – as Solomons has done so successfully.”

PICTURE CAPTION: Joan Cook (third from left, back) of UK Steel Enterprise with members of the Solomons Europe team at the Innovation Centre, Hartlepool (from left clockwise) Richard Newton, Ryan Dodds, Ian Hedley, Josh Brown, Andy Catterson and Victoria Clements.

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