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Charlotte Wonnacott

Architectural assistant Charlotte Wonnacott is among the first to gain a qualification from the new Retrofit Academy, which was launched at City College Plymouth at the beginning of 2023.

Charlotte, who works for Tavistock-based company KJM Construction, is now the proud owner of a drone licence in addition to a Level 2 Award in Domestic Retrofit, a qualification, she says, will be extremely useful in her career.  

Charlotte’s working life started in the catering industry, an industry in which she worked for many years before moving into property sales and lettings. Having always had an interest in property and buildings, Charlotte was regretful having not pursued construction or architecture as a career, but when her maternity leave coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, Charlotte started reflecting on her career choices and decided this was an opportunity to make a change.

She completed an HNC in Construction at the College and now works in architecture, producing computer-aided designed plans for housing and commercial buildings.

Charlotte said: “Thanks to the knowledge I have gained through the retrofit course, I can provide clients with a better service. My understanding of how to make my designs as energy-efficient as possible has improved as a result of this course and where we can utilise retrofitting practices for our projects. 

“I have been introduced to a lot of new equipment, including drones and thermal-imaging equipment, all of which is extremely useful in identifying where a property needs attention to be more energy efficient, saving our clients money in the long run. ”

Charlotte was notified about the course when her former lecturer sent her an e-mail suggesting it might be useful for her career progression and, as she is self-employed, she was able to attend lectures around her work. 

Charlotte added: “The staff have been really helpful throughout the course, particularly with regards to thinking about our next steps. I’m now considering completing the level 4 retrofit course, which will build on this knowledge and qualify me to carry out retrofit assessments myself. 

“This course has been particularly useful for my career but you don’t need to be working in the construction industry for it to be of benefit to you. Anyone with an interest in home improvement or energy-efficiency would gain a lot from this course, and the fact there is potentially government funding available makes it even better.”

The Level 2 Award in Understanding Retrofit was offered at the College as part of the government’s Skills Bootcamps initiative, which provides funding for courses where the government sees high demand for specific skills.