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Architects image of The Digi Tech Factory CREDIT COFFEY ARCHITECTS 2

Former student returns to help construct landmark college building

3rd December 2020

Former student Ed Carr is now a Trainee Project Manager with R G Carter

Two and a half years after completing his college construction course, Ed Carr is back at City College Norwich helping to oversee a major new building project – and at the same time he is inspiring today’s students to aim high as they prepare to embark on their own construction careers.

Twenty-year-old Ed is a Trainee Project Manager with R G Carter Ltd, who were awarded the contract to build the £9.1m Digi-Tech Factory which will provide a state-of-the-art base for digital skills training at the college from Summer 2021.

This is not the first major project Ed has been involved with, as he is also currently working on the £53m Carrow Quarter development.  This four-phase development will eventually see 323 new flats built at Riverside in Norwich.

Early career progress since leaving college

Ed has made rapid progress since he left the college in the summer of 2018 to join R G Carter.  As Trainee Project Manager, Ed assists the Senior Contracts Manager and has wide ranging responsibilities on site – from reviewing construction progress against the planned programme, to management of client relations, chairing meetings with sub-contractors and suppliers, monitoring Health and Safety, ordering materials, and much more.   

In addition to gaining all this experience of construction management, Ed is continuing his learning through a 4-year BSc (Hons) in Construction Management which is funded by his employer.  Successful completion of the degree will see Ed become a Chartered Member of The Chartered Institute of Builders (CIOB).

College competition led to R G Carter opportunity

Ed says that his time at City College Norwich, when he studied a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment, provided an ideal preparation for his current role.  He valued the wide range of modules which provided a good foundation of construction knowledge.

He recalls that there were also lots of visits to working construction sites:

We went on a lot of site visits, which is the way to learn. You see the real thing out there, real life, and how everything works. You get to meet professionals as well, who have been in your shoes when they were starting out in the industry, and they can relate to where you are.” 

Ed sees the many opportunities provided to link with professionals from the industry as another strength of the course.  One such link played a direct role in Ed joining R G Carter after leaving college.

In the second year of his course, Ed won a competition to come up with a plan for converting the college’s Lewis Building into student accommodation.  The prize included 3 days’ work experience with R G Carter, and it was this experience which convinced Ed that construction management was the direction he wanted to take. R G Carter were, in turn, highly impressed by Ed and offered him the Trainee Project Manager position.      

A rewarding career with amazing opportunities

Despite the hard work and commitment that is required (Ed starts work on site at 7:30am each day and finishes at 5pm), Ed couldn’t be happier to have a varied and challenging role in an industry that has appealed to him for as long as he can remember.

We are making communities; we are creating spaces that people are going to enjoy.  To see a building go from nothing to a finished, high standard building, is great to see. We’ve recently finished phase 2 at Carrow Quarter and seeing families living in the flats that we’ve built, and that they are happy with them, is so rewarding to see.”

He continues:

If you are in a construction management role, obviously it comes with the responsibility, but you get to lead teams, you can travel the world by doing it - obviously there is construction everywhere in the world.” 

Encouraging today’s students in their construction careers

Ed is now sharing his passion for construction, and his experiences of moving from college into the industry, with the current crop of construction students at City College Norwich.  He has led tours of the Digi-Tech Factory site and given talks on his own journey since leaving college, passing on advice to help the students make the best possible start in their construction careers. He says:

I love to talk to the students. When I was a student here, getting to talk to people that had been on the same path before me was really helpful. I could see that the course could actually get me somewhere, that it was not just about getting a qualification, but that you can actually get somewhere from it.  That was really important for me, to know that what I was doing was relevant to my future career.”