Meet Jake: The Edward Street Quarter apprentice

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Jake Philips, 19, is in the third month of a civil engineering NVQ, working on site at the Edward Street Quarter site in Brighton with O’Keefe Construction.

Contractors kicked off work on a multi-million pound project in February.

The Edward Street Quarter development aims to bring hundreds of homes and thousands of square feet of shops and offices to the city centre.

Born and bred in Hollingdean, Jake is already planning a career as a civil engineer, despite starting with little knowledge of the profession.

He said: “I didn’t know about anything to do with civil engineering when I started but I now have a good understanding and I absolutely love the people here.

“I’m the youngest and they look after me, although I’m expecting some banter today about getting my photo taken.

“I was good at maths and English at school and I think I’m pretty smart so, although I didn’t know anything about the subject, I thought I’d give it a go.

“The first month was tough, there was a lot to take in and learn and I was struggling, but I bought a notebook, wrote everything down and it started to sink in.

“Now I’m in month three and I’m really enjoying it.

“I want to take this as far as I can – into management one day. O’Keefe say they’ll look to take me on when I’m qualified and that’s what I’m aiming for.”

Asked about living in Brighton, Jake has only good things to say: “I’m a big fan of Brighton and

Hove Albion and love the new stadium.

“It’s a good community around here – everyone knows each other.

“When I’m not on site I’m down the beach with my mates, playing football, out for a meal or a night out or taking a drive to find somewhere new in Sussex.”

The Edward Street Quarter development will bring 110,000 sq ft of Grade A office space to Brighton, as well as 168 flats.

It is being built on the site of the former Amex House in John Street and lead contractor McLaren Construction says it wants to complete the £120 million development by autumn next year.

Jake is looking forward to it. he said: “When I started in June the development was still at ground level.

“It’s been great to see it go up so fast – I can almost see my house from the top now.

“There are parts of Brighton struggling with unemployment and the new offices will create new jobs – anything that can help with that is a good thing.

“The fact that it’s right next door to the job centre should help too.”

Steve Eccles, project director at developer First Base, said: “I’m delighted to hear that Jake is enjoying his apprenticeship.

“We’ve been working with our contractors McLaren and O’Keefe to bring more trainees and apprenticeships to site.

“We’ll use Jake’s experience as an example to encourage more trainees to work with us.”

Edward Street Quarter was designed by architects BuckleyGreyYeoman and the group said it was inspired by “Brighton’s eclectic street scene”.

The site will be the largest provision of workspace to be delivered in the city since 1993 and will also include sites for gyms, cinemas, cafes and shops.

Last year Mr Eccles said developers were “in talks with independent retailers, cinema providers, bars, restaurants and cafes which align with our plans to deliver a lively and attractive place to live, work, play and visit”.