A Qualified Workforce: by Mark Priestman

Mark Priestman

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy, from stonemasonry and heritage skills through to site supervision and conservation management. The partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. 07876 687212. [email protected]

Mark Priestman is a Director of a training consultancy whose mantra is: Qualify the Workforce! Here he congratulates one of his former trainees for winning an award.

I received a call from one of our past learners – Aaron Lumsdon. Aaron achieved his level 2 NVQ with us and was a learner on the CITB’s Specialist Applied-Skills Programme (SAP) in Façade Preservation. He proved himself to be exceptionally skilled in stone restoration, and he received our nomination for a programme award.

We’ve kept in contact with Aaron, and he’s done the same with us since he successfully achieved those qualifications.

At the time, Aaron worked for and was mentored by Stone Co Ltd, and then moved to Westcountry Stonemasons. In 2020, Aaron set up his own company, AJL Stonemasons.

So when he called with some great news, it came as no surprise to us. He explained he was both nominated for and then presented with the accolade of Fix Radio’s Stonemason of the Year Award.

Hearty congratulations from us all, Aaron!

I hope the award is an additional springboard to your already progressive journey in the Stonemasonry specialism. Best wishes for your future plans for developing your career.

Aaron’s success focused my thoughts again on the importance of setting personal goals for professional development.

Ideally, we need to view our professional development needs as a programme of work. And the most successful programmes are managed by plotting milestones on a schedule.

Of course, plans change, but that’s the beauty of a programme of work, it bends and twists and peaks in response to the reality around it.

On the flipside, if we fail to plot our plans, or even fail to identify the route we desire to take, then sadly the only planning we are doing is planning to fail.

I recall as soon as Aaron had completed one module, he was quizzing me over the contents of the next. Frequently he would send me photos of his work, which he took great pride in. He was always quick to gain experience from his work-based mentor on up-and-coming off-site training subjects and to ask questions about the work he was doing to make his training as relevant as possible.

During off-site training, following the giving of instruction and demonstration, we naturally wanted learners to have a go and eventually undertake practical tests. Aaron was always the first to say: “I’d like to have a go!”

What a great attitude. It’s the sort of enthusiasm we want to bottle for others on their journey.

Why is enthusiasm for the learning process so important?

Working backwards from the goal of personal development, which has to be success. Success only results from changed behaviour (and appropriate behaviour at that). Changed behaviour can only result from the learner buying into the benefits of the method being instructed. And, of course, benefits will only be seen where the message presented is proven.

Ultimately, we all have to come to a realisation that we are on a learning journey. We might have arrived at a certain destination, but none of us has concluded the journey yet.

Aaron with his award.
Aaron with his Fix Radio award.