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Bethany Holroyd EngTech MICE tells us about her route to becoming an engineering technician – from career choices at school to her work as Harbours Asset Manager for The Moray Council
If I told you "I always knew I wanted to be a civil engineering technician" I would be lying.
High School was tough time for me, as it is for any teenager – trying to decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life seemed a tough challenge. My then boyfriend (now husband) was studying a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Civil Engineering at the time we met, and he asked me to have a look at what he was studying. It looked great! A mixture of maths, science and engineering – and the best thing was that I could go straight into a vocational course instead of A Levels. This meant I would start to learn about my career path straight away! I decided to pursue it, and applied for a place at Leeds College of Building.
My four years at LCB were a great experience and I would recommend them to anyone. The lecturers were fantastic – all ex-construction industry professionals who each had different stories to tell about their experiences. The lessons were a mixture of practical and academic work, and they prepared you well for working in industry. As soon as I started at the college, I knew I was on the right path.
I studied full time for one year, throughout which I tried to get an apprenticeship. I was knocked back twice – which to be honest made me even more determined to secure one – and I finally succeeded in 2011 when I landed a role with Halcrow. I worked hard, juggling full time employment and attending college one day a week. It was difficult, but worth it knowing I would get all the qualifications I needed with no debt, as well as having four years' experience in industry.
I managed to become the first person in the country to complete the Level 3 Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering for Technicians. This included a Level 3 BTEC Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment, and a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Civil Engineering for Technicians (NVQ). I progressed onto a HNC in Civil Engineering and then a Level 5 NVQ which I completed in just two months.
At Halcrow I worked on various schemes, from £5k taxi studies to £120m motorway upgrades. As well as trying to do well in my academic life, I've taken every opportunity to promote apprenticeships and STEM careers, and I continue to look for these opportunities today.
I've met an array of people on my career journey, from HRH The Duke of York and various MPs. I pushed them for their thoughts on STEM and apprenticeships (selfies were also important).
After getting married, I relocated to the Scottish Highlands and now work for The Moray Council, as a full time Civil Engineering Technician. My job role originally started in their structures section, which included carrying out bridge inspections and supervising construction sites. I quickly progressed from supervision duties to looking after schemes from start to finish as a Project Manager.
Last year I took on the additional role of Harbours Asset Manager, looking after the six council run harbours in Moray. My days working at the harbours vary a lot, but overall my duties include:
I recently completed a works plan for the next five years based on the survey data and I'm using this as a basis to ensure the harbours are kept in a good condition for the people who use them.
Being a technician wasn't what I'd always planned to do. Not because I didn't want to do it – more because it wasn't an option given to me at high school. I attended an all-girls school and the options on career day didn't include anything from the construction sector.
Once I progressed in my career I made it my mission to promote STEM subjects as much as possible. I believe that women especially have a duty to encourage more females to consider less traditional career paths. I don't believe we should be putting numbers next to how many females should be industry by a certain date, but I do think that we should be encouraging young girls more.
That being said, construction is an industry with many areas of work, from logistics and construction trades to management and engineering. It can be a very rewarding industry for both women and men equally.
To find out more, contact Bethany on Twitter @blholroyd or Linkedin.
If you're interested in finding out more about a career as an engineering technician, our careers section will help explain more. Whether you're still at school or college and considering what to do next, or already working in the industry, we've got a range of information to help explain your options and how we can assist your career every step of the way.