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Dan Hogben right with Caddick Construction Site Manager Brad Crawford

Dan takes T Level pathway after kidney disease ended hopes of football career with Hull City

A York College Construction T Level course has helped Dan Hogben rebuild his life after hopes of a football career with Hull City ended when he learned he needed a kidney transplant.

Dan, pictured above with Caddick Construction Site Manager Brad Crawford, was only 16 when he was told that one of his kidneys was only 13 per cent functional.

He was on course to land a scholarship with the former Premier League club at the time but was told by doctors that he would have to give up on his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

In 2022, the second year of Dan’s A Levels was then interrupted when the chance of a transplant arose after his mum Alison donated one of her own kidneys to another person in a swap as part of a share scheme.

After recovering from the surgery, Dan decided he wanted to pursue a different pathway to A Levels and, following a discussion with a College staff member, he decided our T Level in Design, Surveying and Planning would provide him with best route towards a career in engineering.

Now in the second year of his course, Dan has impressed his placement employers Caddick Construction so much that he celebrated National Apprenticeship Week this week by being interviewed for a Site Engineering Degree Apprenticeship with the property developer group.

That would see Dan carry on working for the company, who would also pay for him to gain a degree-level qualification on day release at the same time.

It might not be the career goal the promising young footballer had his sights set on when he was out on the pitch representing Hull, but Dan admits he was always realistic about the prospects of becoming a top pro in the sport and took education seriously, knowing that engineering would be a very appealing fallback plan.

Dan’s story has previously been told on TV presenter Steph McGovern’s Channel 4 show “Steph’s Packed Lunch” in May of last year, but he is moving quickly on to the next chapter now with the help of his T Level course.

Reflecting on his inspiring journey, Dan said: “I was hoping that I was going to have a career in football with Hull City but, even without the transplant, I always knew that statistically only something like one per cent of academy footballers have a professional career in the game, so I always had a back-up plan and took education seriously, especially anything to do with engineering.

“I had my kidney transplant when I was meant to be doing my A Levels, so I could have gone back to school and done an extra year, but I went back for a day and decided it wasn’t for me. I wanted a change and to do something more practical to help me get into a job, so I spoke to somebody from the team at York College and told them I wanted to go into civil or structural engineering.

“I was advised to enrol on this course and I am so pleased now that I was introduced to T Levels. I was always interested in engineering at school and construction is also such a good industry to get into, so it seemed an ideal way of putting the two together.

“The 315 workplace hours you’re required to do for a T Level also appealed to me a lot as did the fact that a lot of the exams are coursework and practical assessments. I’ve also managed to work more hours as the company paid me to work with them during the summer holidays too.”

Working with Caddick on one of the largest Passivhaus projects in the UK is future-proofing Dan’s skills, meanwhile, as the industry moves towards a more sustainable way of constructing buildings.

The site, next to Burnholme Sports Centre, plans to house 78 new net-zero properties, meaning Dan now has first-hand experience of the challenges that must be overcome by site teams, sub-contractors and consultants to meet that commitment.

Dan has also enjoyed the opportunity his T Level has given him to consider the full range of career options in the construction profession, which has cemented his interest in a future linked to structural engineering.

“I came to Caddick not knowing 100 per cent what job I wanted to go into,” he declared. “I initially thought I wanted to go into site management but, having tried different jobs here and having had my eyes opened to all of them, it has made me realise I want to go into engineering.

“I think a T Level like this one gets you into a business and workplace a lot sooner than other pathways would and is a gateway to knowing what you want to do in construction. Even if you want to do a trade, you’ll get on site and see them all and what they entail, instead of having to just commit yourself to learning one of them.

“When I first came in, I was working with the site manager to help with the site set-up and, over time, I have been looking through all the technical drawings and seeing how things are built. That has really helped me understand the different methods, which you don’t really get sat in a classroom and, now that I know what I want to do, I’ve spent a lot of time with the site engineer, learning how to use the total station and other equipment, as well as helping with setting out and doing surveys.

“Working with a range or people, seeing what they do and getting their opinions on the best careers in construction has really helped me.”

Whilst he might have been craving a less theoretical and academic approach to education when he decided against completing his A Levels, Dan also enjoys the balance between time in College and in the workplace.

“It’s not just a case of sitting down and listening,” he reasons about the tuition he receives. “We have practical lessons and sometimes go outside of College to do some surveying.

“We also get set different scenarios and go through the whole process as if it’s a small project in construction. I think having two days on site and three days in education, as we’ve had during this second year, is a good balance.”

On the value of T Levels for employers and Dan’s contribution to the company and work site, Debbie Watson, Caddick Construction Social Value Manager for Yorkshire, said: “I think T Levels are an excellent introduction to an apprenticeship as the students are being exposed to many different roles on the site, as well as experiencing the elements of the relationship management module and what is expected of them in the workplace. It is also beneficial for the employer as it enables us to get to know the student better over a two-year period and look at their attendance, punctuality and enthusiasm to learn to gauge whether we want to continue working with the student through an apprenticeship.

“Dan has proved himself to be hugely helpful to the site team, therefore we offered Dan a zero-hour contract over the summer holidays, so he was being paid for his time. He has now completed all his mandatory hours, and we are continuing to pay Dan for his time throughout the second year of his studies.”

Chris Collard, Caddick Construction Ltd Project Manager, added: “Dan has been an asset to the Caddick site team during his time with us. His punctuality and attendance have been excellent and he has demonstrated good communication skills.

“He is happy to speak with members of the site team at all levels and ask questions to better his understanding. Dan has continually demonstrated enthusiasm to learn and is quick to pick up any tasks that are given to him.

“On a very busy site such as this, Dan has proved hugely useful, helping members of the site team in the site office and out on site. During his time with us, Dan has shown a keen interest in Site Engineering and has been shadowing our Site Engineer over the last few weeks, which he has really enjoyed.”

To learn more about our Construction Design, Surveying and Planning T Level (Level 3) course, please click here

For a list of our current apprenticeship vacancies, please click here

For more general information on apprenticeships, please click here

To learn more about Caddick Construction, please click here