From education to employment

Josh Smith named Young Builder of the Year at the Youthbuild UK awards #FEsavedMe

Josh Smith, seated front row, left, with fellow finalists of the Youthbuild UK Awards, on the London Eye

An apprentice brickwork student from Bradford College, who had a troubled upbringing, struggled at school and was told he would never achieve anything, has been named Young Builder of the Year at the Youthbuild UK awards.

Josh Smith, 17, from Queensbury, took the trophy in the 14 to 18-year-old category of the UK-wide awards that celebrate the achievements of young people who have overcome personal barriers to train and work for the construction industry. 

Bradford College, where Josh is learning his craft whilst also working for Archcraft Builders, received a special award to recognise its ongoing work in giving opportunities to disaffected and disadvantaged young people to train for the construction industry.

From left, Josh Smith, Rt Hon John Hayes MP and Joe Lumb

Josh Smith 2

Josh, and Bradford College, were celebrated at an awards ceremony held at the Houses of Parliament.

As well as a trophy, the teenager was presented with a framed certificate, a cheque, and tools from Toolstation, one of the sponsors of the awards. 

More than 140 people were present at the ceremony, including politicians, senior figures from the construction industry, colleges, training organisations, finalists and their families.

All the finalists finished the day with a trip on The London Eye.

Josh said: “To win was very unexpected but it was a pleasure to receive the award and it put a smile on the faces of all my family and friends.”

With a difficult home life and school behavioural issues that often meant he was excluded from lessons, Josh left school with just one low-grade GCSE but, after convincing Martin Hargreaves at Archcraft Builders to offer him an apprenticeship, the teenager turned his life around and is excelling on the bricklaying course he is studying at Bradford College where he is described as an “exemplary, talented and dedicated student”.

Growing up in an environment where there were issues with drugs and crime, Josh also had to contend with his mother being diagnosed with cancer while he was at school.

“I was excluded from most lessons because of my conduct and was considered a distraction,” he recalled.

“I struggled to learn because I wasn’t allowed in classes and was told constantly that I would never achieve anything or get a job which meant I had very low self-esteem.”

Josh was joined in London by his mother, who he thanked for believing in him through the tough times and encouraging him to achieve his goals.

Also accompanying the teenager to the awards ceremony was his tutor at Bradford College, Joe Lumb, who collected the college’s special recognition award.

Joe said: “It was an amazing day with Josh winning and the college also being recognised.

“Youthbuild UK are nationally-recognised, prestigious awards supported by not only some of Britain’s leading house building institutions such as the NHBC but also companies like Toolstation, Bromford and B&CE charitable Trust and the government.

“I was thrilled for Josh and proud and honoured to collect the award on behalf of the college which recognised the training and dedicated support we provide to young people in enabling them to fulfil their individual potential.”

Josh Smith, holding his Youthbuild UK trophy, alongside Rt Hon John Hayes MP, President of Youthbuild UK.

Josh Smith 4

Rt Hon John Hayes MP, the new President of Youthbuild UK, presented this year’s Awards. The judging panel was chaired by:

  • Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA); other judges included
  • Judy Cobham-Lowe OBE formerly Deputy Chairman of CITB;
  • Geoff Mann, Industry Training Manager of NHBC;
  • John Meaden, Marketing Director of Toolstation,
  • Martyn Price, Workforce Development Director of O’Halloran and O’Brien, Chair of the Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force (CCATF) and
  • Nicola Sinclair, B&CE Charitable Trust. 

The sponsors of the 2018 awards were NHBC, Toolstation, B&CE Charitable Trust, Bromford and CECA.

Anyone interested in discovering more about courses at Bradford College should come along to the next open event on Saturday, 8 December, between 11am and 2pm in the David Hockney Building on Great Horton Road. 

Related Articles