‘We built this city” : Meet CARA Brickwork

06 January 2020

This edition we met up with an employer who has been involved in building some of Salford and Manchester’s largest developments.  Over the past few Years, Cara Brickwork have welcomed Apprentices from Salford College onto sites across the Northwest and after recently reserving a chair in our Apprenticeship Champions Group we wanted to know how and why Apprenticeships work so well for them….


From two apprentices themselves, to a company with almost 140 employees: Joey and Neil Allen have building their business at the heart of what they do. Nurturing and developing talent is one of their key aims, and with a partnership with Apprenticeships at Salford City College, new talent is always in the pipeline.

Brothers Joey and Neil Allen followed the footsteps of their father and both become Bricklaying apprentices many years ago.  Joey explained “We worked for our dad as Apprentice Bricklayers and then worked through the different roles until we was Supervisor/Site Managers with Keith Walton Brickwork for 11 years. In this time the industry grew and so did we with the demand of Brickwork.”

After 11 years, Joey was approached with the prospect of starting up business through CARA Construction. 17 years later, CARA Brickwork is a well-established business across the North West and UK. With Joey Allen as the managing director and Neil Allen as the Contracts Director, the brothers have their own story to tell to those new to the industry.

Neil explained how over the past few years, the industry has been experiencing a severe shortage of bricklayers and at times struggled to find the talent.  This then guided them to the apprenticeship route and who better to encourage it but the directors themselves.

It has been reported that the skills shortage is ultimately down to the aging construction workforce. With over 20% of tradespeople being over 50 and 15% over 60, there is growing concern that an issue will arise when they all come to retire.

At CARA they are trying to combat this growing statistic by bringing in fresh new talent. Site Manager, Mike McGloin, said: “As a whole we are facing an industry shortage and so if we train people with our teams, then hopefully they will stay with our teams and continue working with us.  Over the years the people who have come through the apprentice route are some of our best dedicated and successful workers.”

He continued: “We support apprentices because everyone deserves a chance and we are trying to build the future. It’s increasingly difficult to find good tradespeople and so we need to create and train our own.” Mike has recently welcomed six new apprentices onto the Galliford Try site in Brunswick, some from Traineeships, Some not in Education Training or Employment, some just left school.

Contracts Manager Mark Greenhalgh stated “The trust we have in the Apprenticeship Recruitment team at Salford is fantastic.  We will make an opportunity where ever possible for an apprentice, not every day but when we can we need people that want to learn, the recruitment team know our vision and it works for us, we are a team and we need people that want to learn and progress in the industry.”

For many, apprenticeships are the way forward. The chance to learn whilst working. Neil explained: “Apprenticeships allow people who may be unsure in what direction or pathway they want to take to make up their mind and trial different aspects. For example, someone could start off on a bricklaying apprenticeship but then decide ‘actually, I want to go into management’. So, it’s a stepping stone into future avenues.”

Looking into the future of apprenticeships and the aging construction workforce, Joey added: “Apprenticeships are the best way to get into the industry. But I think we need to branch out into getting young people work experience also so they can start early. This year we intend on working closely with the Apprenticeship team to target colleges, and even schools then maybe we can help those people who are unsure on what they want to do.”

CARA have a strong ethos on giving back to the community by giving local people a chance. Through working with Apprenticeships at Salford City College, the team are able to gain some of the best local apprentices that the city has to offer. Joey claimed: “Working with local people is a huge benefit for us because we are giving back to our community our close partnership with the college allows us to do this, grow our business and get young apprentices from the area onto the sites surrounding them.”

He added: “Over the years we have had around 40-50 apprentices, with many of them staying with us.”

As the team at CARA grows, so will the need for apprentices. With a constant flow of candidates entering the system, the team at CARA make sure that their apprentices fit in with their ethos. Joey explained: “When we’re looking for people we look for that willingness to learn and enthusiasm. We want people who are proud of what they produce and who want to progress like we do.”

“The reward is, driving past a site you worked on and thinking ‘yes, I built that’.

One apprentice who has recently joined the team is Aaron. He started out on a week’s placement with the company and was offered the position within a few days. Mike explained: “We were so impressed with Aaron and his determination and commitment to the job that we knew he’d be a great edition to the team. We’re really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Aaron.”

Aaron, 17 from Salford, came to the Apprenticeships Team wanting to enter the world of construction. After some careers advice with the team, he was offered a trial with CARA. Aaron said: “I always knew that construction was something that I wanted to go into, but I wasn’t sure what area. With the help of the advisors I managed to secure this career, Cara are fantastic to work for, the team on site really look after me.”

“Since being here, I’ve loved every minute, I am so happy to have been offered an apprenticeship with Cara Brickwork.”

Alongside Aaron is Myles, who was recruited in 2019 following on from the Build Salford Traineeship, Myles told us “Cara are fantastic, I have every faith they will give me the career I am eager for” Myles has just been nominated by his managers for Apprentice of the year. 

If you want to enter the world of construction apprenticeships, then contact the Apprenticeships team on:

0161 631 5555


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