From The Royal Artillery to Site Management

Cara Brickwork

Mitchell Thomson served in the Royal Artillery for 7.5-years, leaving in 2022, as Lance Bombardier. Mitchell advised “I was second in command for radar detachment. A typical day included getting up early and have breakfast in the canteen, then we’d have an hour of personal training. The rest of the working day was spent servicing vehicles, setting up the radar equipment and preparing for any future exercise. My confidence levels definitely increased during my time in the Army. I had to become more independent and used to getting by without the support of family and friends. So, I definitely gained confidence in all aspects of life.”

Mitchell’s current role is an Assistant Site Manager for Cara Brickwork. “I had been a bricklayer for seven years before joining the Army and knew this was an area I was interested in getting back into. During resettlement I saw a BuildForce post on LinkedIn and got in touch with them, we had a career chat and agreed I should springboard from my military career and pursue a supervisory role. They helped me update my CV then they connected me with Cara. I had to attend an interview with Cara, which BuildForce helped me prepare for. I hadn’t had an interview for many years so they helped me with interview techniques and explained how my skills from the Army could be transferred to ‘civvy street’.

Interms of challenges, it took a couple of months to adjust to the changes. There were some things that I was so used to having to do, day to day, that didn’t happen anymore. My days used to be very structured; it is still structured but in a different way. There is more independence and more freedom now and while that’s a positive, it did take some getting used to. There is a lot of help out there to help people in the military to get into civvy street including organisations like BuildForce. But I think it would help if the Army could offer people who are leaving, more support, with time off to attend interviews and courses that they need to do, to prepare them for leaving.

In terms of my current role, Assistant Site Manager, I make sure the bricklayers on site are working safely, and that everyone is happy, and I address any issues. I ensure that the quality of work is up to standard and order any materials that are needed. Typical day is me getting onto site at 7am and go through my emails and deal with any admin. Once everyone else is on site, I go round and make sure the team is all ok. I do quality and safety checks and respond to any queries. I attend meetings with the wider team at Cara and troubleshoot any issues.

Advice I would give to others? The world is their oyster. I’d advise them to put themselves out there – use LinkedIn and don’t be afraid to speak to anyone and everyone and see where opportunities arise.

Three words to describe the construction industry would be progressive, continuous, and achievable. And to describe veterans, I’d say we are reliable, disciplined, and hard working.”