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Ex-forces scheme leads to site manager success for British Army Soldier

Thanks to a collaboration between the Cara Group and the BuildForce organisation, a former British Army soldier is establishing a successful career in the construction industry.

Mitchell Thomson served in the Royal Artillery as a Lance Bombardier for seven and a half years before retiring in September 2022. He discovered BuildForce after deciding to change careers, as it has a strong relationship with the Cara Group, a multi-disciplined contractor with offices in Liverpool, Manchester, and Yorkshire.

BuildForce collaborates with the construction industry to help service leavers and veterans from the RAF, British Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Marines transition into trade and professional careers.

Mitchell contacted BuildForce, who connected him with the Cara Group. Mitchell was hired as an assistant site manager with Cara Brickwork after a successful interview process.

Mitchell said: 

I had been a bricklayer for seven years before joining the Army and knew this was an area I wanted to return to. I came across BuildForce’s advert on LinkedIn and got in touch with them and they put me on to the Cara Group.

“I had to attend an interview with Cara which BuildForce helped me prepare for. I hadn’t had an interview for many years, so their assistance with interview techniques and translating my Army skills to the civilian workforce was invaluable. It was difficult after not having an interview for so many years, but they really helped me see how my skills could be applied to the role.”

Cara Group is dedicated to employee training and development, as well as providing opportunities in the community.

Cara Brickwork employs 18 apprentices and has trained over 100 apprentices in its 21-year history. Neil Allen, Managing Director of Cara Brickwork, spends a significant amount of time giving ‘Director talks’ to college students, sharing his personal journey and inspiring them to strive for similar accomplishments.

Neil has also visited several prisons to counsel inmates and give talks and demonstrations in brickwork. He also participates in ‘have a go days’ within the prisons, including Styal Prison, which is all-female.

Neil said:

“At Cara Group we are continually growing and are always on the lookout for talented people to join our team. Partnering with BuildForce enables us to meet impressive individuals who may not have all the necessary experience, but we recognise that with their training and discipline, they will make excellent members of the team. 

“After leaving the Forces, people don’t always know how to get into a civilian career and we are delighted to be able to offer opportunities in challenging and dynamic roles. It’s really important to us to make sure we are recruiting people from all backgrounds and different walks of life within the communities we work in and we’re really proud of the training and development we offer.”

Mitchell began working for Cara Brickwork in September 2022 and says it took him a few months to adjust to the change of working in construction. He does, however, enjoy the role and the independence and freedom he now has.

He said:

“It has been a big adjustment, but a very positive one. I have been able to bring skills from my military career into this role such as discipline, patience and timekeeping. I genuinely enjoy my new role, working with the bricklayers on-site and the wider team at Cara. 

“If anyone is thinking of leaving the Armed Forces for a career in construction then the world really is their oyster. Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone and explore where opportunities may arise. A career in the construction industry is an excellent choice for veterans who are reliable, disciplined and hard-working – qualities that are invaluable on a building site.”


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