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'There's a wealth of opportunities for apprentices'

04 February 2020

After leaving the Armed Forces, Ethan Worrall was directionless career-wise until he decided on a civil engineering apprenticeship. Find out more about his journey...

'There's a wealth of opportunities for apprentices'

After leaving Her Majesty’s Armed Forces I tried my hand at a few different career paths but I never really settled into anything that really grabbed my interest. I was at a loss career-wise. I already had a keen interest in engineering from school and excelled in subjects like design technology and woodwork.

I decided that I would like to head down the civil engineering route as I had some limited experience of the construction industry and felt there was a wealth of opportunities, certainly enough to keep my interest long enough for a whole career!

An apprenticeship was the right path for me

I was 27-years-old at the time and I didn’t want to go back into full time education so I decided that an apprenticeship may be the right route for me as I would be able to learn part-time whilst getting my foot in the door with a reputable company and building my knowledge and experience from there.

My apprenticeship was in civil engineering, focusing primarily on infrastructure engineering, designing drainage systems and highways as well as other civil engineering related tasks for architect lead projects. I applied and was accepted on an apprenticeship program with Building Design Partnership (BDP). BDP are a global, multidisciplinary design studio compromising architects, engineers, town planners and everything in between. Working in house with many different types of engineering and architectural disciplines towards a like-minded goal has given me a wealth of knowledge, not only in my own area of specialisation but others as well.

My experience of my apprenticeship was an incredibly positive one. I was initially slightly sceptical when applying for an apprenticeship at my age, however it’s a decision I am completely glad I took. From the start I ‘went all in’ on the experience, working alongside colleagues and mentors four days out of five with one day a week set aside for academic learning at the local college.

Having a tremendously supportive work network around you from day one like I did meant although the learning curve throughout my apprenticeship was steep, it was incredibly interesting, enjoyable and rewarding. Being at college part-time also helped me understand the theoretical aspect of my work. Being in a classroom surrounded by like-minded individuals who are keen as you is great. Suffice to say at 27 years of age I also wasn’t the oldest in the class!

The value of mentors

Mentors can act as a guiding role model throughout your apprenticeship. They can guide you along the right path, encourage good behaviours and help you with the bad ones! They are a wealth of knowledge and are completely non-judgemental. Ask them anything, even the most basic questions! Mentors helped me fulfill my aspirations by helping me progress in my role though guidance and imparting their years of knowledge.

My career aspirations are to now complete my part time degree studies and become a Charted Civil Engineer. Ultimately I’d like to find myself working on some of the really big civil engineering projects not only in the UK but globally.

I think others should take up apprenticeships at any age because they are a fantastic way of getting your first step on the ladder of a career which will fulfil your aspirations and goals for life. When I graduate I will already have seven years of industry experience which in my opinion is far better than a full time student studying the same degree and you get paid at the same time!

An apprenticeship really gives you the grassroots understanding of a role and the building blocks for a successful career.

Read more on Ethan's route to apprenticehship on his profile.

Discover more about civil engineering apprenticeships and how ICE can help you.

Visit our Apprenticeship hub