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Ford motors on

Nine months after winning the BMI Apprentice of the Year for pitched roofing, Roofing Today caught up with Matt Ford on a roof in Hertfordshire to chat about the competition, what he’s doing now and where he sees himself in the future.

Following the BMI Apprentice of the Year last July, Matt is continuing to work hard at his day job with Incommunities, the Bradford-based social housing provider formed in 2003 after a stock transfer from Bradford Council. His main focus is carrying out repairs and approving the work of external roofing contractors, which he says can be quite challenging.“I can’t pass a roof that isn’t as good as I would put on,” says Matt.

Alongside his work, Matt is continuing to develop his roofing skills and knowledge by completing his NVQ Level 3 at Leeds College of Building, where he has been joined by Connor Pringle, the runner up in the competition.

LCB roofing tutor David Mallory speaks highly of Matt, and what he’s achieved in winning the Apprentice of the Year: “Matt’s definitely more confident having  taken part in the competition and doesn’t just do his own work, but also actively helps and encourages others. Our Level 3 apprentices are organised in teams of three, so Matt’s in a team with Connor and they’re both getting on really well.”

Alongside his studies and as part of his ongoing professional development, Matt has been networking, making contacts, attending trade shows and making use of the opportunities that his award has provided by meeting merchants and other manufacturers. 

BMI continues to support Matt, inviting him to take part in the WorldSkills event at the National Exhibition Centre, where he promoted the roofing industry to the 71,000 visitors across the three days of the show. 

BMI Technical Training Manager Mat Woodyatt, reinforces this view: “Matt has developed into a very good communicator and is real asset to the team. He gets to meet and learn from some of the top influencers in the industry, something BMI have been very proud to expose him to. He should never feel he is alone in his career progression and aspirations and we shall always be here, alongside all of the contacts he has made since AOTY, for the rest of what shall be a great future for him." 

The skills, knowledge and contacts acquired by Matt, not least during the Apprentice of the Year competition, all feed into his work for Incommunities – overall making him a superb ‘customer service agent’ for it: great at dealing with clients, contractors, suppliers and general public; while delivering quality roofs for the organisation.

While totally committed to Incommunities, some distance over the horizon for Matt is the prospect of running his own company.  Matt has had exposure to project Management opportunities with his current employer,  and this is something he believes he is suited to..

This forward-thinking approach is one of the qualities that made Matt stand out from many other apprentices during the BMI competition. “I want responsibility and I would like to work with more varied materials like lead and slate, as well as traditional concrete tiles”, Matt says

For his part, Matt is “chomping at the bit’ to see what’s next once he has completed the qualification; great professional satisfaction currently comes from his work for the national charity Band of Builders, “run by tradespeople, for tradespeople”.

His latest BoB project is in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, where he is one of two supervisors overseeing the construction of an extension to the front of a house that will create a ramped access for a disabled boy, (please see https://www.bandofbuilders.org/projects/2020-2/jamess-project/ for details). Naturally, Matt will also be putting on the roof –  with the support of BMI, for roofing materials.

“Since winning the Apprentice of the Year competition I have really grown in confidence and this helped me to take on a lot more responsibility when working with the charity, whom I have been working with for some time.” he says.

And that is why Matt recommends that every apprentice should have a shot and enter the competition. “It boosted my confidence no end. The competition went into areas that just aren’t covered in college and it was never just about simply putting on a roof.”

The BMI Apprentice of the Year 2020 competition opens on 2nd March and welcomes all those recognised as an apprentice by their employer, or those working towards qualified status. To enter the BMI Apprentice of the Year 2020 click here

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