Barrow-Born Construction Chief goes back to college for the future of Construction | Wates

Phil Harrison returned to Furness College, where he himself studied as a teenager, to talk to students about their career aspirations and provide them with an insight into the construction industry and the diversity of roles available.

The visit is one element of a wider programme of education engagement as part of Wates’ role as lead contractor on the construction of BAE Systems’ new Central Training Facility (CTF) in Barrow. This will also include a number of site visits highlighting the different stages of the build and seminars that will explore the theories and principles that underpin a successful construction project.

With an illustrious career spanning more than 25 years, Phil began working life as an apprentice in a Barrow shipyard, studying at Furness College (formerly known as the Barrow College of Further Education) to gain further qualifications at the same time. He then progressed to the University of Sheffield and graduated with an Honours degree in Construction.

Phil is now responsible for a £300m business and over 350 members of staff delivering education, commercial and public sector projects across the Midlands and North of England. With a remit to grow and develop Wates’ presence in key geographical areas including Cumbria and the North West, Phil has a combination of practical, technical and academic experience.

The career assembly at Furness College also saw presentations from Kyle Harvey, Project Manager for Wates Construction at BAE Systems’ new Central Training Facility (CTF) in Barrow. Dan Massey, Trainee M&E Quantity Surveyor for the project, also discussed his role at Wates and his future career aspirations.

More than 50 full-time College students took part in the assembly from Levels 1, 2 and 3 as well as first year apprentices.

Phil Harrison, Managing Director, Wates Construction Midlands and North, commented:

“It has been incredibly rewarding to return to my roots and offer these inspiring young people an insight into the construction industry – from the College that propelled me toward my own career success. It is vital that the next generation are made aware of the variety of opportunities on offer in this diverse and fast-paced sector.

We are working hard to create a range of meaningful and high quality opportunities for young people to ensure our presence nearby on BAE Systems’ new Central Training Facility generates a wider benefit for the community and local economy. It was also a personal highlight for me to engage with students starting their own journeys in the town in which I grew up.”

Furness College Construction Lead, Graeme Shaw, said:

“It was great to welcome Phil back to Furness College where he began his training. There is a real demand in this area for highly skilled construction workers and Phil’s story in which he progressed from Furness College to a degree in construction is a great example of the career opportunities available to our students.

We are seeing more and more students developing their skills in areas including bricklaying and plastering and moving onto Higher Education construction courses here at Channelside. I am sure his story will help inspire the next generation of construction workers. We were also delighted to strengthen our links with Wates with a view to visiting their sites and possible future work experience for students.”

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