My journey started four and half years ago when I moved out of my comfort zone and decided to start a new life with my family here in the UK. I had visited the UK before and as a seasonal worker so I was aware of the difficulties and obstacles in my way to achieve what I planned for myself and family.
What made it different and harder was having the added responsibility of supporting my pregnant wife and 18 month old son. My uncle and his partner offered their support however, the challenges were enormous to overcome to settle into a different lifestyle.
As a qualified professional in Albania as a Civil Engineer with a Master of Science in Construction qualification and experience working with the Local Land Registry Office in Albania, I had planned in my dreams my unknown future.
When I first arrived in the UK, I started going through those obstacles and had all my degrees, certificates, work references, etc, translated in English. Even though I had a good level of English language, degrees and experience in construction I knew it would take time (probably never will, I thought at times) to start work in my qualified profession.
With very limited savings I had left, I managed to connect with my Albanians friends in Brighton and started work as a decorator and laborer. Having to provide for my family, putting a roof over our heads, wasn’t working in my favour as my finances were limited. What I could afford for living was a real struggle. Located in the centre of Brighton gave my wife the opportunity to be independent and have access to all the facilities nearby so I could work the extra hours to support my young family.
Having the future in my mind, I set my own targets to define what I wanted to achieve in the near future.
Working as a labourer/groundworker gave me the opportunity to get in contact with Project Managers and Engineers. I invested some of the savings in further training. I developed the contacts on construction sites who helped me. I managed after six months of being in the UK to secure a contract as a Graduate Engineer in one of the biggest projects in East Sussex. After long hours and hard work the project was successful so I was promoted to Site Engineer within a year and became the Project Engineer / Senior Engineer and was looking after four Site Engineers. This project lasted four years and I was proud to have managed a successful project and established my work credentials.
I am currently working in Sussex as an Engineer, undertaking commercial and domestic projects. I am a Graduate member of the Institute of Civil Engineer and hold many Certificates in Construction; Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS), Temporary Works Coordinator (TWC); Construction Skills Certification Scheme (the CSCS Card) for Professionals, etc.
I know many Albanians living in the UK have more difficulties and struggle to settle and work in their profession, but my advice is don’t give up on your targets and believe in your own ability. In fact, success is something very subjective and personal. Hard work and dedication are key factors to achieving your dreams regardless of obstacles set in your way.
Ervis Ereqi, Civil Engineer
Connect with me on LinkedIn CLICK HERE