Name: Lance Corporal Huw Thomas
Occupation: construction materials technician, Royal Engineers'Military Works Force
Route to the job:
'I left school at 16 with 10 GCSEs and completed a BTech National Diploma in leisure studies. After working for two years in leisure management, I wanted to do something more fulfilling that could equip me with a technical skill. I completed my 10 weeks'basic training followed by a combat engineering course, which included equipment bridging, explosive demolition, demining and water supply. I then did a 25-week Class Two basic trade course as a construction materials technician. After gaining experience in a unit in Cyprus, overseeing the refurbishment of a military runway, I completed my Class One trade course, which led to a BTech National Certificate in civil engineering studies. I then served in a unit based in Chatham, Kent, before being posted to the 530 Specialist Team of the Royal Engineers' Military Works Force at Chilwell, Nottinghamshire. '
'There is no typical day. Being a soldier means I have to keep up my military training, including fitness. My technical work involves anything from reconnaissance and site investigation to laboratory materials testing. We could be building roads in the Middle East, conducting contaminated land surveys in Kosovo or testing samples for another technician in Chilwell. We also have to service our own equipment, research future projects and continue with our training. '
Highs and lows:
'The highs obviously include the travel - I have been to Cyprus and Germany and am about to go to the Middle East - and the fact that the army is keen to encourage sport in 'work time'. There are lots ofopportunities to work alone, which I like, and a lot of responsibility is given to the individual. The variety of tasks is enormous - we see a project through from cradle to grave - and the opportunities for promotion are always present. The main low is that you can be away from your family for as long as six months at a time, although four weeks'paid leave, on top of our annual six-week entitlement, is granted as compensation. '
'Promotion; I would like to go as far as I can. I intend to learn more about my trade and get as many qualifications as I can. I also want to travel more, preferably on short tours. '