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Shard PM lauds value of apprenticeships

The project manager who oversaw the building of The Shard in London has said that tradesmen and women with a dedication to construction processes can work their way up to overseeing some of the world’s most high-profile projects, just like him, if they are prepared to put in the work.

Tony Palgrave was over-arching manager of the landmark construction project, but the 50-year-old professional started his own career with a City & Guilds qualification in mechanical engineering and worked his way up from there.

Palgrave, who was born in Zimbabwe, said that he was working as a resident engineer with a construction company when he was asked to take on a problematic staircase installation – and his company saw what he was capable of and promoted him to project manager.

He told The Guardian that the construction industry is just as welcoming of apprentices as it is of graduates, so people with varying degrees of academic ability can still earn the chance to develop lucrative and demanding careers.

“You get recognised for doing a good job, whatever your qualifications,” he told the newspaper, mentioning a plasterer who became a business unit director at Mace, where he currently works. “Apprentices can reach any level they want, if they’re prepared to go the extra mile… You can do a degree in project management, but it's no substitute for working your way up through the nitty gritty.”

During the construction process of The Shard, Palgrave would find himself overseeing more than 1,000 workers at certain times, while managing crane operations, installations and all of the other specialist teams that are required for a project like The Shard.