We spoke to Thando Makombe, Apprentice Materials Technician working for Balfour Beatty Vinci

Can you describe your role in a few words?

My role involves the testing of materials, from soils aggregates to concrete to see if they meet the required standard for the project.

What were you doing prior to your Apprenticeship?

I was working at a COVID test centre.

What was your perception of the sector before you started your apprenticeship?

Well my perception was ‘it’s a great industry, and I’d love to be involved’ as I have previously  worked for Caterpillar Inc, so I was quite intrigued to get back into construction.

What interested you in joining Balfour Beatty Vinci?

To me Balfour Beatty is one of the best construction companies in the world, and so I was intrigued and wanted to be part of a huge innovative company, changing the way we live and travel from one place to another.

What are the key things you’ve learnt so far in your job?

My top three things that I have learnt so far are:

  1. How to test and crush concrete cubes, and also learn why we do it.
  2. How to carry out routine testing, and again why we do it, for both soils and aggregates
  3. Recycled method testing – which is where recycled materials, from glass to aggregates, are tested to see whether they meet the required standard to be used on the project.   

What is the most exciting part of your job?

I love coming to work and learning something new every day, from the seniors, techs. Its great knowing everyday won’t be the same. I have only just joined the apprenticeship as part of the HS2 project, but I do hope to be part of the Tunnel Boring Machines in the future.

What would you like to do after completing your apprenticeship?

I would like to progress to a technician role – specialising in either earthworks, grout or concrete. I’m very open to learning and developing my experience and I think that HS2 will give me the opportunity to do that.