Flying the nest

  • Sam has been away from home during his time as an apprentice
  • He’s worked in Cambridge, Liverpool, London and Edinburgh
  • The apprenticeship has offered him a number of opportunities so far

Twenty-year-old Sam Smith is on a two-year piling apprenticeship for Expanded, and it offered him the opportunity to leave home and find independence for the first time. Living in Dover, his first posting was on London’s Nine Elms site only an hour or so away from home. After this, he moved to Cambridge and then Liverpool, to work on the Clatterbridge site. Moving gradually further from Dover, he’s now on the Edinburgh St James project in Scotland. 

Career enhancer 

Sam praises the support he’s received as an apprentice, citing the team as a source of information. “It doesn’t matter what your question is, someone will always answer it and help where they can,” he says. 

Sam’s not unfamiliar with a hard hat and high-vis. He did a year at sixth form before leaving and gaining a Personal Track Safety (PTS) qualification and finding employment in the railway sector. He’s always had an interest in the construction industry, and after scouring the Laing O’Rourke careers website, he decided a piling apprenticeship was the best path for him to take. 

Learning plenty

But Sam wasn’t entirely sure what this entailed - so he undertook some initial research. This was the start of a rapid learning curve – from discovering the theory of piling to putting it into practice. And it was the hands-on aspect that appealed to him. 

“I couldn’t work in an office now!” The fact that he’s worked on a number of projects already has helped him hone his skills. “I’ve learned a lot from being on different sites,” he says. New locations and new teams not only present fresh challenges, but also various opportunities to learn something different. 

The golden ticket 

“I’m definitely really enjoying it,” Sam says frankly. “I like the travelling and getting the chance to see new places, and I really like the team I work with here at Edinburgh St James.” Has he gained anything extra? “I got my cherry picker training, which I wasn’t expecting!” he says enthusiastically. Based in Edinburgh St James for a year, there’s no doubt that Sam’s going to learn a lot more in the coming months, and he sounds perfectly happy about that. 

Recruitment is now open for our apprenticeship programme, click here to apply 

To read more about working at Laing O’Rourke, visit

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