Lecturers in Industry: Alastair Blant, Property Maintenance
Did you know that many of our lecturers still work in their industries alongside teaching?
We recently caught up with Alastair Blant who told us about his time as a Construction Trainer, as well as his latest endeavour running his own property maintenance business whilst also teaching, you guessed it – property maintenance!
What you teach at GC? How long have you been teaching Property Maintenance?
I've been teaching property maintenance at Gloucestershire College for about nine months now. It's great fun. I've also had my own property maintenance business for two years, prior to that I was a construction trainer for about ten years, so I now enjoy passing those skills on to the next generation.
What do you like about your job?
Often, people just have problems that haven't been solved for a long time. I'm a qualified roofer as well, so I tend to find out what problems there are, solve them, and then all of a sudden, they've no longer got a leaking roof and a wet bedroom!
What's your favourite thing about working with GC students?
I've really enjoyed passing on the skills I've picked up. I'm lucky I was the son of a farmer, so I started working with practical tools and techniques when I was a small child.
I've found that over the years I was taught important practical skills, whether using a chainsaw, driving a tractor, or using all sorts of hand tools. There's not much stuff on a farm you can do without a piece of string and a hammer! So, I brought all these problem-solving skills to the job that I do now.
What are your favourite parts about property maintenance?
I think it's because the work's so varied. I get calls from landlords, I look after properties for AirBnB owners, private homeowners, and until you get to the job, you never really know what the problem is. So often they think they know what the problem is, and then I have to be a little bit of a Sherlock Holmes, work out what the issue is, and then sort it out for them. I'm living the dream.
What's your approach to teaching? How do you work with the students and engage with them?
I think the best technique I find is to let them fail in the classroom, in the workshop. I'll set them a task. They'll often, more often than not, probably not get it right the first time round, but people really learn from that.
Then I can show them exactly how to do it, and the learning curve is amazing. They start at the bottom, and before you know it, they're doing that task again and again, just how they need to.
That's a great way of letting them learn from their mistakes and succeeding the next time.
What kind of things do you teach the students?
I guess it's a cheesy line, because the clue's in the name, property maintenance! We do hanging gutters, we do fixing leaking taps and plumbing, we do mending loos, we do painting and decorating, we do safely isolating electrics, we do wood repairs, we hang doors, we mend windows, we replace damaged plasterboards, the list goes on! It's everything you could expect that might go wrong and need repairing in a school or a basic property or a care home, or even a hospital.
What kind of things do your students do after doing their apprenticeship?
It's a very varied spread of career choice, really. Our apprentices generally are already working for an organisation, so currently we've got them from the NHS, we've got them from care homes, we've got them from schools. It might well be that they choose to go self-employed in the future, where they might be doing pretty much what I do and doing property maintenance on a self-employed basis. It might well be that they work with the MOD, for instance, working on larger estates and large properties, again, dealing with and being part of the estate management team. Anything really!
Want to know more? Take a look at some of the Property Maintenance courses Alastair teaches: