Kris Vile is an operative apprentice in one of our highways teams in Birmingham, working specifically as an arborist. In this role, Kris and the team are responsible for the management of plants and trees. Here, Kris shares his experience of joining the construction industry.  

What did your career look like before you joined Kier?

 “Before coming to Kier, I had no experience within the construction industry, and previously was a professional skateboarder.

“From around the age of ten, I fell in love with skateboarding, and it was something that I picked up very quickly. “Within a couple of years, I had gained my first sponsorship deal with a local skate shop in Birmingham, called “Ideal”. Just a year later, I was selected to join a youth team for Vans footwear, and as a result of this I appeared in a kids television show that eventually went on to win a BAFTA. From there, I continued my journey riding for many companies including Red Bull and Volcom.

“I was very fortunate to get to travel all over this beautiful planet we live on, competing against the world’s best skaters and visiting places such as New Zealand, Japan, Puerto Rico, Dubai, and all over mainland Europe.

“I still compete to this day and have recently put in an application to compete for Great Britain in the Olympics; hopefully I will once again have the opportunity to represent my country. “

Why did you join Kier?

“There is only so long that my skateboarding career will go on for and I wanted to find a career that I loved – to me, this is so important.

“I wanted a job where I would be able to remain physical and for it to be practical. I thought an apprenticeship would be a good route for this and I was searching on Indeed when I came across a position at Kier which sounded spot on for me.

“When I found the job for an arboriculture apprentice, I jumped at it! I love nature and have a keen interest in learning more about trees in particular, so the role felt perfect for me.

“Kier’s stance on sustainability and their work ethic was another factor in my decision as I strongly believe in acknowledging the footprint we leave in our lives.

“I decided to apply, and I was really happy when I was told I had secured the apprenticeship.”

What does a typical day look like for you?

“Since joining, I’ve moved around a few areas within our Highways business.  Starting with planning, I moved to weed spraying, traffic management and now I am focused on the area of climbing trees.

“A normal day for me and the team starts at 07:00, where we’re briefed by our team leader and given our work for the day. Before we set out, we make sure we have the correct PPE on, and we’ll also carry out a vehicle check and check the equipment to ensure it’s all in working order.

“Once we’re out responding to a job, whether that be pruning foliage or moving a fallen tree, we need to ensure that the area is safe and clear. This can often mean speaking to local residents, which I like to do as its important people know what we are doing.

“What I like is that working in a team, I am able to learn from others. We also take certain roles in turn, which means I am able to try and improve skills constantly.

“There are some aspects to my role which can be quite challenging, such as learning how to move around a tree in the most efficient way and climbing using the ropes. I never knew there was so much skill involved but there is, and I absolutely love it here!

“I love learning about the trees and how to identify them from the bark and leaves, and I love knowing that through the knowledge I’ve gained, I can make a difference to the environment that we’re responsible for and should strive to protect. It’s also great having the chance to learn every day and gaining a qualification at the end of it; the apprenticeship route is a fantastic route into the business.”

What advice would you offer to someone looking to join our industry?

“Kier is a great company for anyone getting into the industry, whether that’s in Kier Highways or one of the many other business streams.

“There’s a lot to learn and you’ll be given the opportunity to fine-tune a career for life in an industry that covers so much of the functioning everyday life. It’s an industry that you can be proud to be a part of.”

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