I was struck by the comments about sourcing the next generation of estimators in the article “What does it take to get your loyalty?” (8 September, page 38).

Any company that has recently tried to recruit an estimator will know that this animal is close to extinction. If patience is one of your virtues, training your own is becoming a more attractive option than headhunting.

It is not a speedy process – two years for an ordinary national certificate, followed by two years for a higher national certificate, then possibly a degree in a construction discipline. At Beard, we begin our selection process at the work experience stage, giving prospective trainees a taste of “life at the edge”.

Few schools or colleges present any form of building management as a career option – a sad omission on their part, which contributes to the shortage of up-and-coming estimators. It helps to establish a solid and trusting relationship with one or two local schools, and to spend time talking with students, making them aware of this career opportunity and the crucial role played by the estimator in construction projects.

If four years is too long to wait, mature trainees may be the answer. One of our mature trainees began his career in procurement, which gave him an excellent foundation to move into an estimating role. The launch straight into an HNC was a big step to take, not having studied formally for several years, but he is meeting the challenge and achieving great results.

Alan Beard, director, Beard Construction