Andy Fuller, Persimmon Homes' construction director, tells Sally Whitehill why he's spent 16 years at the same firm – and why he's planning to stick around
What was it that first attracted you to construction?
When I was 13 or 14 years old, I wasn't particularly sure what I wanted to do. My main aspirations were technical and I felt the construction industry was for me – although at that stage I hadn't thought about housebuilding.

What was your first job?
When I was 16 I was offered an apprenticeship in civil engineering by Persimmon. It was a three-year course involving on-site training and block release at Bircham Newton Training College, near King's Lynn.

When you joined the company, did you have any idea you'd one day become a director?
I don't think anyone at 16 thinks: "Wow – one day I'm going to be a director of this company." But I was always ambitious and my bosses gave me lots of encouragement. They may have seen my potential better than I did.

Has there been a decline in younger people interested in a career in construction?
No, I don't think there has. This year I will have about eight apprenticeship positions, and so far I've received more than 50 applications. Now there are more people wanting apprenticeships than companies willing to give them. Companies need to buy into the idea – otherwise there will be a shortage of tradesmen. It's crazy not to – and very shortsighted.

What would be your advice to a young person trying to get into the construction industry?
They need a three-pronged attack. They should contact the Construction Industry Training Board and sit their entrance exam. They should also approach any local college that does a building course. Third, they should ask construction companies for an apprenticeship.

When taking on an apprentice, what are the qualities you are looking for?
The single most important thing a youngster needs to have is enthusiasm for the job. I'd prefer to have someone with less skills but commitment. With enthusiasm, the rest will come.

Where do you see yourself in another 16 years' time?
I'm very happy now at the company – and, although I'm ambitious, I'd be happy to stay in my present position for another 16 years.

Name Andy Fuller
Age 32
Current job Construction director, Persimmon Homes
Employment history He started as a civil engineering apprentice at Persimmon Homes when he was 16, went on to become site manager, contracts manager and construction manager, and was made construction director at 32
Lives Bradwell, near Great Yarmouth