Andy led the Lanes emergency team, working on behalf of Thames Water, that first responded to the discovery of the Islington concreteberg.
Kyle Smith has never for one minute regretted leaving behind his job as a painter and decorator and joining the Lanes Group plc team to start a career as a drainage engineer.
His first job at the Lanes Manchester depot in Eccles, Salford, was as a jet vac tanker assistant, but very soon he will be driving his own jet vac tanker. Becoming a jet vac tanker engineer, in charge of his own vehicle, was a goal Kyle set himself – and he is about to achieve it because Lanes has paid for his HGV 2 driving training and road test.
Kyle, aged 30, joined Lanes in January 2015 because the company could offer him a full-time job, real career prospects, and a chance to work in a team. He explained: “I had been a painter and decorator for 10 years, but the job’s changed a lot. Most work now comes through agencies, on short contracts, so there’s no job security.
“Also, it was getting quite boring and lonely to be honest, working by myself in a building day after day. It suits some people, but I was looking for something a bit more involved.
Kyle had wanted to obtain an HGV licence for some time. Working at Lanes was a way to do that, while also gaining other skills and qualifications applicable to a range of business sectors. He said: “From day one I was getting training and real qualifications I needed to do the job. There’s a lot to learn, but you get a lot of support and I don’t mind a challenge.
“What I like is every day is different, and when we arrive on site with our jet vac, it always gets a lot of interest. People want to know how the kit works and what it can do.
“We’re also treated well by other contractors and the public. We’re often solving their problems, such as clearing blockages or helping repair pipes, so they appreciate what we do for them. It gives me a sense of pride.”
Kyle also appreciated the dedication to doing a job right and health and safety. “I wasn’t let anywhere near a sewer or culvert until I’d had my confined space training and water jetting training.
“Now, if I see another contractor trying to do something unsafe I can advise them not to, and about what needs to be done to do a job correctly.”
By late 2017, Kyle was keen to achieve his goal of obtaining his HGV 2 licence. So keen, that he paid to sit his theory test and obtain his provisional HGV licence. Then in May 2018, Lanes paid for him to go on the two-week programme to have 16 HGV 2 driving lessons and undergo his practice driving test, which he passed.
Kyle said: “It felt great to pass, knowing that I was on my way to being an HGV driver. It’s a lot of extra responsibility, both in terms of driving a sophisticated drainage vehicle, and being responsible for operating the kit on site.
Kyle says the pay is decent, with lots of opportunity to do overtime, and it will get even better when he is a full-time jet vac tanker. And that’s important to him; since joining Lanes, Kyle has become engaged to his partner, and the job security he now has allows him to save money and look forward to getting a mortgage – and having a better future.
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