Tutor Case Study

Leigh Jakeman, Principal Tutor at Tamworth Training Hub

Leigh Jakeman, Principal Tutor at Tamworth Training Hub
Leigh Jakeman
Job Title
Principal Tutor
Tamworth Training Hub


NHBC became a registered apprenticeship provider in 2020 and opened its first training hub for bricklaying in Tamworth in May 2021. We spoke to Leigh Jakeman, Principal Trainer and Assessor at Tamworth about heading up the very first hub and the different aspects of his construction career

About Leigh

Leigh is originally from Nuneaton and started working in construction in the 1980s, initially as a laborer and then quickly moving on to bricklaying. After 20 years of gaining extensive experience of life on site, Leigh expanded his career and began teaching, working in colleges across the Midlands.

He then joined NHBC as part of the industry training team gaining even more experience and carrying out Construction Quality Reviews (also known as CQRs) before taking on a new role at the bricklaying facility in Tamworth.

Leigh also used his coaching skills in Club and County Youth Cricket, is a keen cricket fan himself, and enjoys travelling.

About the hub

NHBC took a fresh approach to its training hubs by focussing on what the house-building industry needed and making sure apprentices had the essential skills to be productive on site as soon as possible. Next, to live working sites, the hubs provide a realistic environment.

Leigh said ‘NHBC is uniquely placed to understand what house builders need and we’ve put that into practice here at Tamworth – when we’ve learnt things we’ve applied that knowledge again to every additional hub we’ve opened.

‘I think that’s why several large building firms have decided to put their apprentices on to our cohorts throughout the year. This means you don’t have to put all your apprentices on to the same qualification at the same time and reflects the year-round need for these skills.

‘We also get great feedback about the apprentices as we make sure they go on to the site after their first five weeks with us with the right knowledge and skills to be productive. This includes skills like building to line and to gauge, and as you’d expect they know about NHBC Standards too.’

A day at the Tamworth Hub

We asked Leigh what he enjoys most about looking after the Tamworth Training Hub and what a typical day might involve.

Leigh said ‘I generally get an early start and catch up on paperwork and look at the plans for the day before the students arrive.

‘I also sort out the tasks for apprentices and have a morning briefing with them to cover any issues, like health and safety, tidiness, and so on. This is a great chance to have some time with all the apprentices and set targets and expectations for the day ahead. It’s good to then give them some time to get to work, but I also make sure to check in with them during the day so that they can ask any questions or get some help if they need it.

‘One of the key things about the hub for me is seeing other people achieving things. Some apprentices come to us with very little experience and I’m genuinely pleased when they leave us as skilled bricklayers able to work to such a high standard.’

Motivation and inspiration

We asked Leigh to tell us more about what motivates and inspires him. He said ‘When it comes to people that have inspired me there’s too many to mention.

"I think you can be inspired, or at least influenced, by everyone you meet in some way, but my career was certainly influenced by the person who first suggested I try sports coaching as this then led me to teach as my ‘day job’ and I find it very rewarding."

‘I’ve also been influenced by people I’ve worked with at colleges. I’ve seen different teaching styles and you can learn a lot from other people’s approaches to the same task or subject and also how students learn differently.

‘I’m motivated by being able to improve things. I’m on board with the way NHBC works to raise standards and I think you can see that brought to life at the hubs and how we train the apprentices – I’m very proud that we produce conscientious, quality-focussed bricklayers.’

Looking ahead

We asked Leigh to share his thoughts on what might lie ahead for construction and apprenticeships.

Leigh said ‘That’s quite a tough question but there will always be a need for housing and the demand right now isn’t going to go away overnight, so I think there’s still something to the idea of trade as a very valuable skill that can be relied on for a job.

‘In the future, I’d hope we’d have more hubs. We’ve already got Newcastle and Cambridge with Hull opening later this year too and I really believe in what we’re doing with brickwork and the way we’ve adapted the teaching and facilities to meet the needs of house builders.

‘It would be interesting to see if this house-building industry-focussed approach could be applied to other trades, such as groundworks or joinery for example.’

Words of wisdom

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

Leigh said "Don't run before you can walk. It's a simple saying but it is more important to have patience and learn things properly. If you do that then I think it puts you in a good place as a bricklayer and in life too."

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