The  concept of apprenticeships came quite late to the property industry, making Alex Dray one of the first of his kind.


The 17-year-old, from Thorpe Bay, won his apprenticeship with a Southend company against strong competition.


“There are a lot of people my age who want to go into the property field,” he says.


Regis, the Southend property group where Alex is learning his trade, viewed the open contest for the trainee post as the fairest way to select the best candidate.


Managing director Paul McFadyen said at the time: “We get a lot of applications from young people, approaching us on their own initiative, who want to come into the business. This competition will provide a gateway for one keen entrant.


“It offers the chance for them to gain invaluable training and experience, while being paid, and to progress through the company.”


The training methods outlined by Paul are familiar enough in other industries, but quite novel in property management.


Alex is now in the first month of his apprenticeship, and already winning

praise from his mentors in the company. Paul refers to him as “a smart young man who is really keen to learn.”


Alex says as a school leaver, he had no specific plans to enter the property industry, but wanted a career that would give scope for entrepreneurship.


He says: “I was looking for a large, successful business where I could work my way up the ladder.”


With AS levels in chemistry, biology, maths and economics. Alex could well have continued his studies and gone on to university, but preferred to start gaining direct experience in a business environment.


“I liked the idea of learning on the job and being paid for it,” he says.


Alex learnt about the opportunity at Regis via his mother, who works in a

recruitment agency.


He worked hard to present himself as the right person, producing a report on the property market on his own initiative.


He adds: “I wanted to convince them I could pick up information quickly and that I was a people person with good inter-personal skills.”


Regis embraces a range of departments, including rental management, rental portfolio, sales, purchasing, investment advice, legal, and financial departments.


In the course of his traineeship, Alex will spend two months in each department, gaining a complete overview of the business. In the his first month, he has looked for ways to make himself useful, including drafting letters on behalf of Regis’s property managers.


“I ask plenty of questions, and everyone has been very helpful and informative,” he says. “Everyone here is very nice to one another, and keen to help each other in the work.”


Alex is conscious of his weaknesses as well as his strengths.


“I’m fine when it comes to figures and business, but my English skills are not so strong, so I’m working hard to develop that side of things,” he says.


Most of his time so far has been spent in the office.


He says: “ I have been out on a couple of site visits and I will be going to legal hearings.”


Alex is already confident he has chosen the right career, as well as the right way of going about it.


He says: “Money is a motivator, but the most important thing is to be happy in what you do for a living. I haven’t been here that long, but long enough to say that I am happy and I love it.”