Success Stories.
Career & Personal Growth.

Welcome to our new Success Stories page, where we will bring you regular updates on the accomplishments of our academy learners on both a personal and professional level.

  • Ben Bratby, whose dedication to learning was a breath of fresh air

    Meet Ben, an extremely intelligent and enthusiastic learner that chose to embark upon a new journey in construction after turning his back on product design..


    Ben, who used to be a professional product designer, had a spate of bad luck when his previous firm made the entire department redundant at the same time that he was breaking up with his wife. He was unable to pay his rent, and made the decision to retrain into a trade whilst he was still young enough to do so.


    Ben tried to find work on construction sites, but discovered that he was losing out to college kids, and with having no on-site experience, quickly realised that he needed to learn a trade from the very beginning. While he was visiting the local job centre he was handed an NSA Level 1 ITC course flyer, and as they say, the rest is history.


    Ben wasn’t really sure what to expect from the programme, but he ended up achieving 50/50 in his CSCS test and really enjoyed the ITC course as a whole, saying “There was a good balance of practical and classroom-based learning.” However, when he discovered that NSA we’re no longer delivering carpentry training on site – focusing on plastering, P&D and bricklaying – he jumped at the opportunity of relocating to Sheffield Skills Academy to undertake their new Skills Bootcamp in Carpentry course. Sheffield Skills Academy.


    In order to reach Sheffield Skills Academy in good time, Ben would cycle to Nottingham train station, catch a 7.30am train, and then cycle on to Sheffield… now that’s dedication!

    Ben shone at carpentry, as though his hands had been made for moulding and shaping wood, but he said at the time he was open to other trades. He would see where his learning would take him.


    He told us: “My experiences at both NSA and SSA have been amazing. Not a single fault. Every campus is so friendly and kind, and the learners help each other along the way. I was fairly anxious at the start, but the atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back, making it approachable. The outdated stereotypical classroom way of teaching isn’t present at the academies. They chat about football, help you with your CV in an internal group, and encourage everyone to participate in a personality quiz, which was genuinely insightful. It allowed me to understand my own strengths and weaknesses and showed me that I’d brought across lots of skills from my previous profession, which is why I seemed to slip into all elements of the programmes so well.”

    Ben rounded our catch up with his ultimate career goal, which is caravan and campervan conversions, although he said he wasn’t thinking about running his business., explaining: “I used to manage a small team at my old job and I’ve learnt to walk the walk properly. I’m going to stay on tools, I may even become a handyman!”

    However, pretty much as soon as he left, and unsurprisingly, Ben was offered a role with Heritage Engineering, who noticed this talents and tenacity, which he accepted over a London based design job! What a learner, one that fell in love with the construction industry, our academies, and his trade!


    October 2022

  • Robyn Nelthorpe, defying her own expectations at WSA

    Robyn was looking for a career change after working in the customer service industry for 16 years.


    Born and raised in South Africa, Robyn lived there till she was 27 when an opportunity arose to move to the UK with her job. She jumped at the chance and remained with the company for another 6 years. However, as she openly admits, sheโ€™d struggled with depression in her teens, and the role eventually got her to the point that she was fed up with โ€˜pleasing themโ€™. Her depression had spiralled again, and she felt she had no choice but to walk away and look for a brand-new opportunity, although she was unsure where she was heading.


    When Robyn discovered our ๐—ช๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—ฝ ๐—ฆ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—น๐—น๐˜€
    ๐—”๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐˜† Introduction to Construction (ITC) course, she felt that this type of work and learning may help to reduce her anxiety and depression and bring
    about a brand-new career for her.


    Robyn started on the ITC course despite feeling intimidated having no previous experience of construction. Fast track those initial doubts, she enthused: โ€œMy fellow teammates have been fantastic. So supportive with the physical aspects, especially joinery. The tutors are great too. They
    teach you everything and then let you get on with it, with support there if needed.”


    Robyn breezed through the ITC course and moved on to the multi-trade programme at ๐—ฅ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—บ ๐—ฆ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—น๐—น๐˜€ ๐—”๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐˜†, explaining that she real enjoying the bricklaying aspect of the course. She excelled in this too, so when she was informed that the Skills Academies would be running the new Skills Bootcamp in Constuction trade courses, she jumped a the opportunity to further develop her skill set.

    Robyn went back to Worksop Skills Academy to undertake a 4-week Level 2 Skills Bootcamp in Bricklaying course, and loved it! She was then supposed to progress onto the Skills Bootcamp in Painting and Decorating programme, but was unable to attend after falling unwell. However, she’s currently undertaking our Skills Bootcamp in Plastering course and is really enjoying the physical aspect of this programme.


    Robyn told us: “I want to understand as much about home improvement as possible, which is why I’ve been continuing my journey with the academies. When I finally leave here [she laughs] I want to get even more experience working as a site labourer, where I can be hands on doing lots of varied work. Eventually, I would love to go into home improvement on a self-employed basis. There has been so much scope for expanding my skillset at the Worksop and Rotherham academies, and I’ve had so much fun learning. They have been behind me all the way [the tutors] and I’d recommend this type learning to anyone that’s looking to begin a new career working with their hands, or on a construction site. It’s changed my life and my career.”

    Another incredible learner. We think that any construction company would be lucky to have Robyn on their books, and we wish her a wealth of success in all her work and personal endeavours.


    July 2022

  • Anderson Gomez-Cuello and his no nonsense approach to learning

    Anderson had always felt an affinity with the construction industry, and started to look at its practical and physical side, rather than the visionary elements in this vast field.


    Anderson, who has always been practical with his hands, had previously worked in several roles including sales, marketing, and modular housing design within the construction industry. However, he decided to look to a change of career after the Coronavirus pandemic had a detrimental effect on his livelihood.


    Looking to get into the practical side of construction, Anderson spoke to friends working in the construction industry who told him that health and safety practice here were very different to those in the Caribbean, his homeland. So, when he saw the opportunities we offer at the NSA, he jumped at the chance.


    Anderson excelled on the ITC course, and on every task he undertook on the multi-trade programme that he moved on to straight after. When asked about his experiences at the academy, Anderson enthused: Itโ€™s been perfect because everyone interacts, and there are democratic decisions between us and the associates.โ€


    Anderson discovered that he had a natural flair with woodwork when undertaking the joinery element of the multi-trade course. And in terms of mental progress, he told us: “My tutor, Lee, encouraged me to speak about how the pandemic has impacted my mental health, which has given me a better understanding of what I want to do, to help me going forwardโ€.


    A paid leader at Volunteer It Yourself (VIY), working with young people aged 14-24 in the local the communities, he concluded: โ€œThe course has improved my confidence and Iโ€™ve been able to communicate more openly.โ€

    After gaining all the necessary skills, along with his newly acquired CSCS card, Anderson plans to gain more skills and experience working as an apprentice joiner, then aims to set up his own business and take his ideas and learning back home.

    NSA had lined up a joinery apprenticeship with NCC for Anderson, and we wish him the best of luck with his career. With so much enthusiasm and charisma, we’re confident that he’ll be a raging success!


    May 2022

  • Catalin Trandafir - from academy learner to academy tutor

    Romanian-born Catalin, who is happily married with 3-year and 9-month old sons, recently relayed his career and personal growth story to the Skills People Group.


    With one of the closest people in his life telling him that he was inadequate from a very early age, Catalin had no confidence in his own abilities. So, when he began the Introduction to Construction course early last year at Sheffield Skills Academy, Adam Wilson, our Multi-Skilled Construction Tutor, helped him build his confidence to a level that surpassed his own expectations.


    Moving from Romania to Kefaloniaย in Greece in 2007, Catalin made a further jump to the UK seven years later to work in a restaurant alongside a friend he’d made in Kefalonia. .

    When online one day, Catalin noticed an advert for the Sheffield Skills Academy and rang in to book himself onto the Introduction to Construction skills training course.


    While carrying out the 2-week course, Adam spotted something unique in Catalin. His drive, tenacity, and willingness to learn made him the perfect candidate to move on to the 6-week multi-trade course at Rotherham Skills Academy, and since that time Catlin hasn’t looked back…


    Catalin said that “The support and encouragement from the tutors throughout each stage of my learning journey has helped me massively, breaking down the barriers between me and my confidence. Steven Wood and Chris East, in particular, helped me to excel in both bricklaying and joinery with their knowledge, talents and patience. I cannot thank them enough.”

    Alan Brigg’s saw Catalin’s talent shine through. He was offered the chance to submit his CV for the position of Maintenance Operative at the Academy back in May 2021, and after being shortlisted for an interview, Catalin successfully secured the coveted role.

    Since that time, Catlin’s spirited, yet committed and motivated persona has won the hearts of not only the Academy and senior management, but our new learners’ too. His patience with people with learning difficulties is inspiring, and it wasn’t long before the Academy saw what he was doing and asked to help deliver a two-week course.

    Catalin is now undertaking his Level 3 Award in Education and Training (AET), with the aim of becoming an Academy tutor. Where he has to complete written assignments and reports, individual and group case studies, learning journal entries, self-evaluations, group research tasks and presentations, and independent teaching and learning delivery with informal and formal observations taking place.


    Phew! A massive leap for someone who possessed zero confidence and a limited grasp of English. Proving that if you work hard, strive for better, and have a great team of professional people who can support and mentor you, you can fulfill your dreams.

    Catalin is a wonderful addition to the team and testament to what our Skills Academies aim to achieve. We couldn’t wish him any more success in his future endeavors.


    March 2022