M-Futures and Total People – Changing Lives and Landscapes

Award Winning M-Futures and Total People Apprentice Abdul Tahir

The Steve Burne Apprentice of the Year Award, presented as part of the Greater Manchester Building of the Year celebrations, is a prestigious honour. Awarded in memory of the late Managing Director of AEW Architects, the prize is given to recognise and support young people in the construction industry.

Abdul Tahir, 20, finished college in 2018 after achieving good results in his A-Levels. Uncertain about his next steps, Abdul considered Chemical Engineering at university, but came across information regarding the M-Futures/Total People Construction Apprenticeships Project online, and decided to apply for the ‘Our Town Hall’ project; a six year restoration of the Grade I listed Manchester Town Hall.

This innovative apprenticeship, which sees Total People collaborate with leading employers in the construction industry, gives young people the chance to help change the Manchester skyline. The scheme provides construction-focused, higher level apprentices the chance to work with organisations, including Manchester City Council, project managers MACE, development company Manchester Life, property company Bruntwood and architects Purcell, over a two year period.

Abdul explains more; “The Our Town Hall project really felt like something special. The apprenticeship route appealed to me because I knew that after a traditional university degree there would be no job at the end of it. The higher level apprenticeship is much more appealing because not only am I getting paid for learning but I’m getting invaluable work experience, and I’ll hopefully be able to stay in employment at the end of the programme.

“I’ve now been at MACE with the M-Futures and Total People project for a year, and in that time I’ve grown in both confidence and maturity. When I first started I was shy and quiet, but I can really see how far I’ve come. My Total People Training Adviser, Michael Dockerty, helps me with all aspects of my NVQ. He’s friendly and goes above and beyond, and crucially he makes certain that as an apprentice I get as much time and attention as any other colleague”.

When Abdul discovered that he had been nominated for the Steve Burne Apprentice of the Year Award he felt a real mix of emotions; “I was one of three finalists and I felt both excited and a little nervous” explains Abdul. “The finals were held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and there were over 300 guests. The finalists’ names were read out and I heard the winner’s name being announced – I felt a huge rush of emotion but felt rooted to my seat, my line manager had to give me a little push of encouragement to go and accept the award! Not only was winning an absolutely fantastic experience, but it’s further improved my confidence. I’ve spoken to so many people both within my organisation and the whole M-Futures/Total People project, all of whom wanted to congratulate me, and it seems that everyone now knows my name”.

Abdul now has one year left on the programme, so what are his plans for the future? Abdul explains; “I really want to stay with MACE, they’re a great company. Ultimately I’d like to go into Project Management so the plan is to continue with MACE, complete a degree apprenticeship and go as far as I can.

For anyone out there who might be considering the M-Futures/Total People project, I’d tell them that it’s incredibly rewarding and looks fantastic on your portfolio – go for it.


The M-Futures Shared Apprenticeships Scheme is suitable for anyone with either A Levels or equivalent. Apprentices will get industry-relevant experience in a number of areas including:

  • Project Management
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Architecture
  • Engineering

Keep checking our dedicated M-Futures page for 2020 application details.