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Luke Birkett shares his dyslexia story

Monday 28 June 2021

Through drive and determination Luke has achieved an amazing career in the construction industry, and is now raising awareness for dyslexia within the industry.

“My dyslexic brain is wired up differently, my way of thinking could be very different to the rest of the team members so my thoughts and ideas would be considered great contributions because of my thinking out of the box.”

My early school life struggles

I struggled through my younger years with my mild dyslexia that was diagnosed in my second year of secondary school. My teachers and parents could not understand how my grades had dropped from my previous SATS results that showed I was in the top 5% in Hampshire to then a very poor results.

Once diagnosed, I then understood what I would struggle with academically so I had to learn techniques to be able to complete some reading and writing tasks that the majority of other children, would find easier/easy in order to keep up with education for the remainder of my school years to try and finish school with some sort of grades.

At this point in my school life, dyslexia was not well known or understood and the teachers were still not trained on the subject for them to know how best to teach people with dyslexia so I unfortunately struggled through the rest of my school years. This had an impact on my behaviour; at one point I got expelled but was let back into school to finish my GCSE's, managing to get C's and D grades.

My practical learning skills

My problem was that the classes in certain subjects would be mainly text book learning and I learn best by doing mixed practical and listening learning, being one of (if not the quickest) practical learners.

I was always very good at design and technology, P.E, and art, and I was very sporty playing for local/borough top football, ice hockey, swimming and tennis clubs and always being one of, or the main team member or lead role, for each club I was part of.

My chosen career path

I then chose to do a three year bricklaying apprenticeship for a large national house builder as I knew I had to do a practical job that I would enjoy and be good at.

I had started up my own company when I was 21 doing extensions, conservatory bases and on small domestic works and furthered my studies, doing a HNC Level 5 in Construction Management.

My strengths of having a very good practical mind, meant my understanding was very useful in most construction scenarios and problems that needed resolving. My practical thinking and resolution skills were very strong in comparison to many others and especially those from an academic background. I can resolve most practical problems instantly that other academic managers would not be able to do or think of.

I also understood that because my dyslexic brain was wired up differently, my way of thinking would normally be very different to the rest of the teams/groups members so my thoughts and ideas would be considered great contributions because of my thinking out of the box.

My drive to succeed

I have worked my way up from the bottom, very determined to keep progressing my career, working on the tools as a bricklayer, then onto a site manager, project manager, contracts manager, construction director for both national house builders and main contractors working on very large volume housing and government projects, as well as one off high end prestigious prime/super prime housing projects. Then more recently at the start of the year, I started up my own company again, being "Future Homes Design and Build", which is what I had always wanted to do!

Even though I did not enjoy academics, I drove myself through training and courses, so I could be the best at what I do! I have recently completed a Level 8 in Global Strategic Management and Leadership which is an equivalent to a doctorate, and I plan to complete a thesis top up to gain the full DBA (Doctorate in Business Administration).

If I had asked my 18 year old younger self, would I be doing a DBA (Doctorate in Business Administration) and would I be getting addicted to training and qualifications. I would laugh and say no way, haha.

My goal to bring awareness to the construction industry

I am trying to bring awareness to the construction industry about dyslexia in construction, as I think it is a subject that has not really been touched on and has a lot of potential for positive promotion. I think construction is a very common industry for people with dyslexia to go into as it is practical based.

It would be great to let others know that it is ok to be dyslexic and it can actually be used to an advantage. You can be proud of your dyslexia and the positive aspects it can bring and not to give up. We are greatly needed and desired because of what we can offer.

I think it would be great for a construction cross-industry 'Dyslexia In Construction' platform to be set up and backed by all construction industry bodies that will support, promote and enhance those with dyslexia and not make people feel embarrassed. I realised it was actually a gift and it can be used to my advantage and in a positive way.