Colin Timney - Principal Trainer & Assessor at Newcastle Training Hub

Colin Timney - Principal Trainer & Assessor at Newcastle Training Hub
Colin Timney
Job Title
Principal Trainer & Assessor at Newcastle Training Hub


NHBC’s second Bricklaying hub opened in October 2022 with Colin Timney at the helm as Principal Trainer and Assessor. We caught up with him to learn more about his career, his current role, and what it’s like at this new training facility.

About Colin

Colin is originally from Newcastle and now lives in Durham. He has been the Principal Trainer and Assessor at the Newcastle Hub since it opened in October 2022 and joined NHBC earlier that year.

He began his career in construction as a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) bricklayer in the 1980s and then went on to work in and around London. In 2006 he joined Middlesborough college and branched out into construction education. After a bit of time back on site in 2018 he joined the Newcastle Hub team.

Colin enjoys running and is part of his local club, the Seaham Staggerers, and he is on track to complete three ultra-marathons (even longer than a standard marathon of 26.2 miles) this year.

About the hub

Since the Newcastle Hub opened it has seen apprentices join from all over the north-east, with some just a few miles down the road and with others from as far afield as Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds.

Colin said ‘Like all new projects we had a few issues at first but once we got started this hub was up and running in just under three months. We are still learning things though and we’re always looking at how we can make improvements.‘

‘The great thing about the NHBC training hubs is that we really have considered house builders in everything we’ve done. From the layout of the facility to having the classroom area and working area close together our brickwork apprenticeship has been created specifically with the needs of the house-building industry in mind.‘

‘That’s why I’m confident when the apprentices get out on to site after their first five weeks with us they are fully prepared for that environment and ready to get to work supporting build programs.’

A day at the Newcastle Hub

Colin shared what it takes to look after a hub and what a typical day looks like:

‘So, like a real site, we have an early start at the hub. Me and Mike, the Brickwork Technician here at Newcastle always catch up first thing so we can make sure the day runs smoothly and we put tasks up on the whiteboard ready for when the apprentices arrive. We also have a debrief and review before they finish.‘

‘For me communication is key. Mike and I have got great communication and it’s also important for the apprentices to learn this skill so they can make the most of their time at the hub and let us know if they do have any issues or need to ask a question so we can help them.‘

‘It takes teamwork to run the hub, whether it’s the admin side of things like ordering materials or prepping practical tasks ready for a prompt start. The apprentice’s day is 8:00 to 16.30 to reflect a real site and when they’re here it’s just like a work environment, we have the same Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements and the same health and safety too.‘

‘And it’s working really well. We’ve had great feedback and I feel like employers are impressed and like the set up exactly because it’s as close to a real-world site as possible. As it’s an accelerated program the apprentices get up to speed quickly and this is a real benefit to the employer, and to the apprentice themselves too because they’re able to get on with things on-site and work with the gang properly pretty much from day one.’

Motivation and inspiration

We asked Colin what motivates and inspires him. He said ‘I think it’s important to be proud of what you have achieved. I’m proud of our apprentices here at the Newcastle Hub and it’s great to see their progression and how they develop their skills.‘

‘If I think about what might’ve inspired me to get into construction, I was probably influenced quite a bit by the TV program Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. It was on when I was growing up and it was about a group of construction workers who go abroad to work.‘

‘I remember thinking ‘I could do that’ and I might get to visit different places. Looking back I’ve realised I was right as a career in construction can give people a lot of opportunities and I’ve not only done brickwork during my career but a lot more besides. And now I’ve reached a point where I can pass on my knowledge and teach skills to others, which is particularly rewarding.’

Looking ahead

We asked Colin what he thought might be in store for the hub and the wider house-building industry, he said, ‘Well we still have a housing shortage, and sadly I don’t think that’s going away any time soon, but that’s why we will need bricklayers to build quality new homes and I’m certain our apprentices are going to help with that.‘

‘For the hub we’ll be approaching our one-year anniversary in a few months and I’m looking forward to this training facility being even more established in this region. We’re always learning but we’re working to raise standards and produce apprentices that do high quality work. And of course, as more people complete their apprenticeships and the next generation come through we’ll eventually have our first apprentices potentially on site with and teaching the new ones.’

Words of Wisdom

We asked Colin if there was one bit of advice he could give to anyone looking at an apprenticeship what would it be?

He said ‘Get qualified, take opportunities when they are offered to you as it opens doors and gives you other options in the future.‘

‘And get your maths and English qualifications sorted, we give apprentices the chance to do them here through Functional Skills and it’s invaluable - take it from someone who had to go back and do it again later on in life themselves!’

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