Delivering a successful apprenticeship model

ICE Wales Cymru has been working in close collaboration with Arcadis to develop an apprenticeship scheme that assists school leavers in attaining chartered status.

PCA Academy Apprentice and ICE Wales Cymru Apprentice of the Year 2016 Josh Short on site at A465 Heads of the Valleys improvement scheme
PCA Academy Apprentice and ICE Wales Cymru Apprentice of the Year 2016 Josh Short on site at A465 Heads of the Valleys improvement scheme

The Academy’s original intention was to offer engineering opportunities to talented young people from deprived backgrounds in the South Wales Valleys, who may not have had the financial means to consider higher education and develop their full academic potential.

By developing the BTEC Level 3 and NVQ Level 3 qualification at two further education colleges in Pontypool Gwent and Neath Port Talbot, which are fully accredited by ICE for EngTech MICE, Arcadis have progressed the development of the Academy.

The apprentices have the opportunity to link their progression on the Embedded IEng part-time bachelor’s degree courses at the University of South Wales which enables them to continue their education beyond two years without having to give up work.

Understanding the employment strategies of the supply chain on these major projects, Arcadis are able to match young talented people to apprentice employment opportunities in the construction industry and monitor their progress.

The success of the scheme has meant that companies now employ apprentices through the Professional Construction Apprenticeship Academy (PCA Academy) framework which do not have a direct involvement with these major road schemes. Potential apprentice employers find the high standards and continual learning modules set by the PCA Academy attractive.

All the initial intake of apprentices from 2012 are now at university studying for a part time degree in civil engineering or quantity surveying. Consequently the PCA Academy has decided to extend the apprenticeship from two years to five to include the first degree phase. Thus the PCA Academy is already delivering a five-year apprenticeship linked to a programme of continual learning modules.

By continuing their academic studies, apprentices can choose to progress their studies even further with a part time master’s degree. This can lead to full academic accreditation for chartered civil engineer and professional review for CEng.

Currently, there are approaching 100 apprentices affiliated to the PCA Academy studying civil engineering in different years. In the three years since conception the Academy’s apprentices have won numerous awards including:

  • ICE Wales Cymru Engineering Apprentice of the Year 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • CSTT Apprentice of the Year for Wales 2014
  • CITB Managing Apprentice of the Year Wales 2014
  • CECA (Wales) Highly Commended Apprentice 2014
  • CECA (Wales) Apprentice of the Year 2015