Adult apprentice, Sue, from Kirkby defined her career pathway in the construction industry through hard work and determination to realise her true ambition.

Sue Thompson

Sue, 28, first joined Knowsley Community College from school to study Hairdressing and Dance but realised it wasn’t for her. She decided to change direction and pursue a completely different route of study to follow in her family’s footsteps. Sue said, “I always had aspirations to work within the construction industry as my Dad, brothers and uncles have always worked in building trades but I never pursed it as a career choice.”

In 2010 she decided to take the plunge and enrolled onto a level 1 plastering course. After excelling through her level 1 and 2 qualifications in plastering. Sue began to search for Jobs Prospects and despite her determination to find work Sue was faced some difficulty as now, she had not only herself to support, but her young family too. She was finding it hard to secure a position that worked around her family commitments.

Challenged with inflexible childcare provision and jobs with unsociable hours, Sue decided to pursue her options again this time researching apprenticeship opportunities in Knowsley, which would allow her to put her skills into practice to earn a living. She came across the First Ark Apprenticeship Scheme with KCC and applied for a role as a Multi Skilled Apprentice.

Vivark, part of the First Ark Group, provide a holistic all-in-one facilities management and refurbishment service, working closely with schools, hospitals, commercial developments and industrial facilities.

Now in her third year with Vivark and KCC, Sue is a highly valued member of the team and has had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects including day to day repairs, refurbishing empty properties and maintaining the group’s homes.

The construction industry is one of the UK’s largest employers with women making up just 13 per cent of the workforce and just 1 per cent of workers on construction sites. Sue is breaking down barriers and inspiring other women who may also be considering a career in construction to pursue their ambitions. Since joining the company back in 2015, Sue has been able to diversify into other trades and has since progressed onto the level 3 joinery apprentice with KCC to further develop her skills.

Speaking about how her apprenticeship works for her, Sue said, “My apprentice has given me independence and I have gained more confidence in my abilities. I have been supported throughout my apprenticeship and been given the opportunity to take on more training if needed. Through this I have also gained qualifications in Asbestos awareness and Health and Safety in the workplace”.

Construction Tutor, Brian Smith spoke about Sue’s progress saying, “Susan has fully embraced her apprenticeship. She is dedicated to her studies both in and out of the workshop. With her growing skillset, she has become well equipped to work in the industry”.

Sue has set herself along a path that has changed her life and provided her with a skill, income and confidence and has allowed her to plan a future for both herself and her young family.
She added, “Finding a balance between work and studying as well as being a mother can be tiring at times, but it’s all worth it. I am passionate about what I do and knowing my daughter can be proud of me and hopefully follow in my footsteps of achieving her own goals in life”.

Upon completion of her level 3 apprenticeship Sue hopes to secure a permanent full-time position with Vivark.

If you would like more information on how to search and apply for an apprenticeship, please contact our apprenticeship team on 01744 623521 or