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Apprentices build their careers at Gloucester’s Forum development  

5 February 2024
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Tom Elliott Kier apprentice

It's National Apprenticeship Week. Running from February 5-11 we will highlight the value, benefits and opportunities apprenticeships can bring to those seeking to improve their skills and companies looking to expand their workforce.

Apprentices are gaining skills for life and building the foundations for a promising career in construction at The Forum, the development transforming Gloucester city centre.  

There are 13 apprentices working for construction company Kier on the £107 million regeneration project The Forum, which includes grade-A office space, a rooftop bar and restaurant, and boutique international hotel.

The development being driven by Gloucester City Council and Reef Group, is part of the £200 million regeneration of the city with University of Gloucestershire, which includes the university’s City Campus development on Kings Square.

Jenifer Aaron, from Gloucester, is doing a degree apprenticeship in Quantity Surveying with the developers.

She said: “I didn’t expect to get in when I applied but I learn so much and every day is different. My strengths lie on the financial side, ensuring we stay within budget and we procure at the right time. We get to do rotations so I will gain a knowledge of other working areas on site, and I’ll have an understanding of what everyone does, opening up wider career opportunities in the future.”

The 25-year-old from Gloucester is in her first year and is spending her time honing her skills on the development reshaping her home city. 

“They’re two of the biggest buildings in the city, and with the cathedral view it’s an impressive welcome to the city. The hotel is going to make a real positive impact, drawing in tourists not only to the city, but also those visiting the forest nearby who want a base for a countryside visit.”

Tom Elliott, 20, from Tewkesbury is in his second year, studying Site Management.

 “I was interested in architecture, but wanted to see what other options were out there and found there are so many pathways into construction,” he said.

“Training as a site manager appeals to me as you are involved in so many different areas – the management, design, surveying and the construction itself. The Forum is a great site to be getting experience on as I get to work on so many different aspects. I’ve been involved from the very start, setting out for the piles in the foundation, to now working on some of the internals of the hotel.”

Prior to his apprenticeship, Tom completed a BTEC in construction and the built environment at Gloucestershire College. Now in his second year of the degree apprenticeship, a five-year course, he works on the site as well as attending sessions at Sheffield Hallam University.

“I’ve been challenged to develop lots of different skills working, in particular communicating with managers, project teams and different tradespeople. Being in and around them all the time has given me real confidence.”

Councillor Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “One of the key aims of this project was to offer jobs and improve skills locally not only through the businesses coming to occupy The Forum but also throughout the construction of this scheme. 

“The Forum is a once in a lifetime development for Gloucester and we want to maximise the benefits for young people to ensure we make the most of this huge investment.”  

Andy Bolas, regional director at Kier Construction Western & Wales, said: “The construction industry is vital to our economy and supporting the next generation of construction professionals is really important to us at Kier. The Forum presents a fantastic opportunity for apprentices like Tom and Jenifer to get hands-on experience and develop their skills alongside our experienced site team.”

Peter Langly-Smith, development director at Reef Group, added: “The Forum is a unique development with the hotel, office space, car park, and more all on one site, offering a diverse range of opportunities for apprentices to cut their teeth and gain valuable experience.

“As well as providing workspace for businesses upon completion, we’re proud that The Forum has created jobs and provided apprenticeship opportunities during the construction phase too. It demonstrates the significant value the project is bringing to Gloucester and the wider region.”

The Forum is due to open later this year. For more information, visit www.forumdigital.co.uk.


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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