Matt Wylds, Principal Tutor at Cambridge Training Hub

Matt Wylds, Principal Tutor at Cambridge Training Hub
Name
Matt Wylds
Company
NHBC
Job Title
Principal Tutor at Cambridge Training Hub
Location
Cambridge

Introduction

Opened in May 2023 the Cambridge Training Hub is expecting its first bricklaying apprentices in September. We caught up with Matt Wylds, the Principal Trainer and Assessor who looks after this fantastic facility about the Hub, his role, and how he found a rewarding career in construction.

About Matt

Matt is originally from Hertfordshire. He’s been looking after the Hub at Cambridge since February 2023 and has been part of the construction industry since leaving school, becoming a labourer at 17 and attending college to study bricklaying.

He’s worked in education in construction for over a decade. In 2020 he went back on to the site before joining NHBC and becoming part of the Hub team at Cambridge.

He is also a keen golfer and teaches sports to the younger generation too as he coaches a local junior football team in his spare time.

About the Hub

Cambridge is the third NHBC Bricklaying Hub and is open to apprentices of all ages and backgrounds and from all around the south-east region.

Matt said ‘We have apprentices who are local, from areas like Histon for example, but then we also have people coming from as far afield as London. There are advantages to this as it’s a great opportunity for the apprentices to meet new people and understand the reality of bricklaying as a career – you are not always going to be working on a site a few miles away and travel is part of the job.

‘This is another way all the NHBC Training Hubs reflect the reality of the job the apprentices are learning the skills for. We don’t work to traditional educational hours, we start earlier and finish earlier just as you would on a site. And we have outside working environments so there’s no sudden shock when an apprentice has to be on site in the winter.

‘And this is definitely seen as a positive approach by both apprentices and employers. We’ve had feedback from house builders that our block release model makes a lot of sense because it ensures apprentices are able to make a contribution on site from day one.’

A day at the Cambridge Hub

Alongside the practical aspects of bricklaying, including learning essential skills like building to line and joint walling, NHBC Hubs also offer pastoral support. To understand a bit more we asked Matt what a typical day might be like.

Matt said ‘At the moment we’re still preparing the Cambridge hub for our apprentices joining us in September, but once our first cohort starts we’ll have a lot to share with them.

‘The day will begin with a briefing to the apprentices, outlining aims and objectives for the day ahead and setting tasks for each of them. For new techniques we might also give them a demonstration. What’s essential is clear communication about what is being done and why, as well as considering the different levels of technicality to suit each learners’ stage of development.’

Motivation and inspiration

We asked Matt what motivates him and what underpins his way of working, he said ‘I want to see people make progress and it’s very important to me to be able to pass on skills and see others do a job well. In fact, that is something I’ve got from my Dad, he always said ‘If a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well’ and that has stuck with me my whole life.

‘In a way, my Dad’s advice also reflects why I think it’s important that an organisation like NHBC is creating training hubs. It’s about doing the right things to raise standards and a key aspect of that has got to be training people to do it well in the first place as well as being able to understand when something isn’t right.’

Looking ahead

We asked Matt what he thought might be on the horizon for apprenticeships and the construction industry, he said ‘We seem to hear quite a lot in the news about the lack of skills in construction as well as the housing shortage, so I do feel that brickwork is a good skill to learn and is futureproofed in as much as anything can be.

‘I’m really looking forward to our first apprentices joining us and when we are up to capacity we’ll have cohorts running four times a year to help house builders recruit regularly – that’s up to 100 apprentices to start to address skills gap!

‘I also want the Cambridge Hub to be spearheading the training of bricklaying in this area and raising standards on sites through skilled apprentices progressing and influencing their peers. I want to contribute to the local area too by providing skills that lead to employment opportunities and showing people just how rewarding careers in construction can be.’

Words of wisdom

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

Matt replied ‘Listen and take the time. If you get it right and learn how to do something properly then speed will come naturally. Try to have patience and consider the ‘long game’ instead of easy, instant wins. It’s also essential to be willing to learn and have a good attitude.’

 

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