Celebrating 10 years of National Apprenticeship Week

There have been some fantastic success stories from workplace training schemes over the past decade. Here we showcase a selection of our latest trainees, past and present.

Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week.
Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week.
Fiona Harris

Fiona Harris EngTech MICE

Engineering Technician, Devon County Council

Why did you choose to go into civil engineering?
To put to use my interest for geography and science, the creativeness of design to be used on something real-life that's happening on something 'out there' right now is just amazing. To hope that I make someone's life that little bit better and easier for years to come is something special.

What are the benefits of being an apprentice?
The obvious benefits for earning while learning and gaining experience is plain to see but more importantly to be brought under an organisation of support as you mature through life as well as through training makes that experience much more easier than independently making your way into the career. It is far better to make those connections and networks from day one.

What was your favourite moment as an apprentice?
Some people's careers and interests are founded at a younger age such as art and sports so to finally find my 'niche' being covered in the classroom and design office was really reassuring.

If you were trying to convince someone to be an apprentice, what would you say?
For most bright talents in schools, university is seen as the successful outcome. However, advanced apprentices especially nowadays, really can offer an experience and opportunities equivalent to the university route.

What are your career goals for the future?
To become an IEng utilising the technical report route but more importantly is to become a senior technician - the leading role of a career gauged primarily through 'learning the ropes'.

Kieren Couch EngTech MICE

Site Agent, CORMAC Solutions Ltd

Jack Holsman

Jack Holsman, QUEST Technician

Apprentice Technician, Clarke Bond

Why did you choose to go into civil engineering?
I have always been interested in the construction industry and was sure from a young age that I wanted to be involved in it. When I was at school I had a strong interest in science and mathematics so thought it would be sensible to combine the two interests and go into civil engineering. I also have a very practical mind and way of looking things which massively helps when working within the design side of engineering because it enables you to think about how it will be constructed.

What are the benefits of being an apprentice?
You gain a lot of knowledge from your colleagues and also from doing the work which cannot be taught within an academic environment. By being an apprentice you are involved and a part of the engineering and construction industry from an early age which is crucial for fast career development. You gain a strong understanding of the other aspects of the industry other than just the technical knowledge.

What was your favourite moment as an apprentice?
I had many highlights as an apprentice, the best being when I was awarded the QUEST technician scholarship in January 2016.

If you were trying to convince someone to be an apprentice, what would you say?
If you are willing to work your way up from the bottom and work hard to become successful then I think an apprenticeship is for you. Also, if you don't enjoy studying full time and want to work it is a very good way of gaining experience within the industry, working and earning money and also not falling behind everyone else in terms of academic qualifications which is important to further your position within the industry i.e. progressing from a technician to an engineer.

What are your career goals for the future?
My short term career goal for the future is to continue developing myself within my company, gain my EngTech status this summer and also complete my HNC in civil engineering. My long-term career goal is to complete a civil engineering degree part-time following the completion of my HNC. Finally, I hope to become chartered one day.

Emma Jones

Emma Jones EngTech MICE

Engineer, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff

Why did you choose to go into civil engineering?
It was by fate really. At school I enjoyed drawing, technology and maths and after a bit of research this led me to think about architecture. Studying architecture involves going to college full time and seven years at university. I already knew full time education wasn't for me. Being a practical person I wanted to get out there and work, to buy a car and go on nice holidays. I looked at other related careers which then led me to civil engineering. Not only did this allow me to do something I enjoy but give me a career, the chance to study part time to get some good qualifications and of course that car and holiday!

What are the benefits of being an apprentice?
As an apprentice you can learn and earn. With on the job training there are always people around to help give guidance and to ideas that you might not have thought of. It teaches you other ways of thinking and life skills by working with various people.

What was your favourite moment as an apprentice?
When I first started I was scared and nervous of meeting new people but this helped build my confidence, socialising with various people. I got invited to work colleagues' barbeques and birthdays and spent time at college one day a week with fellow students hearing about their experiences.

If you were trying to convince someone to be an apprentice, what would you say?
If you like drawing, are good with technology and think maths is ok then do a bit of research into civil engineering. I'm glad I did because I love my job. Compared to my friends I feel very lucky to be doing something I enjoy and look forward to going to work. When I first started as an apprentice most of my friends went to college. I was working and going to college part-time. It meant I had to work a bit harder to do my reports in my spare time but I had money to go out, enjoy myself and buy that car - whereas my college friends couldn't.

What are your career goals for the future?
I only have one career goal - to be able to say "I'm a chartered civil engineer". This means a lot to me, having come up through the apprentice scheme I want to prove to people that you don't have to go to university, anything is possible when you want it. By being a chartered civil engineer I will feel I have reached a stable place in my career to provide for my family.

Tammy Whelan

Civil Engineer Apprentice, Arup

Tammy is part of the Work+ Apprenticeship Scheme in Northern Ireland – Find out more about the scheme.

Bill Beaumont

Bill Beaumont QUEST Technician

Civil Design Apprentice, Jacobs UK

Why did you choose to go into civil engineering?
I chose to go into civil engineering because it offers a unique opportunity to contribute and improve the built environment we live in today. Being able to contribute to designs and then take them to construction and see them develop delivers real job satisfaction and a feeling of contributing to society.

What are the benefits of being an apprentice?
Becoming a civil engineering apprentice offers a raft of benefits. Civil engineering has wide ranging disciplines and it can be difficult to select one to specialise in coming out of university. Being an apprentice allows you to experience these disciplines and allows you to discover your strengths in a supportive environment. It also allows you to get formal qualifications, such as a degree in civil engineering. Completing a degree part-time gives you the opportunity to grow your knowledge and career and gives you real world experience that you can take into the university environment.

What was your favourite moment as an apprentice?
Working out in India. I had the opportunity to go to Kolkata and work with my colleagues to develop a multi-million-pound highways project.

If you were trying to convince someone to be an apprentice, what would you say?
Being an apprentice is hard work but the experience and opportunities that are on offer will set you apart from people coming straight out of university. You will have the chance to work on and contribute ideas to real world schemes that have a positive impact on society while working towards university level qualifications and receiving a salary.

What are your career goals for the future?
My future career goals will be to complete my degree and work towards my professional qualifications with the ultimate aim of becoming a project manager who specialises in major civil engineering projects.

Jordan McConkey

Jordan McConkey QUEST Technician

Apprentice, InfraDesign Limited

Why did you choose to go into civil engineering?
My inspiration for civil engineering developed through my passion for solving technical problems using engineering solutions. The process of design development beginning with a concept and couple of lines on a screen, to something which will become an integral part of the modern world, never stops to amaze me and encourages me to keep learning.

What are the benefits of being an apprentice?
The ability to gain job experience as well as further my education. It helps to develop the understanding of putting theory into practice, get familiar with the work environment with an additional benefit of earning money. A lot of employers are keen to support apprentices which help to develop their company. They are also able to get financial support from the government which provides additional incentive.

What was your favourite moment as an apprentice?
Visiting a construction site of a housing development in Ottery St Mary. This was my first big project and I played a big part in the production of engineering drawings and submission of construction information. It gave me great satisfaction seeing the months of effort on the scheme becoming a reality and all of our hard work paid off.

If you were trying to convince someone to be an apprentice, what would you say?
Apprenticeships are a great way of getting a head start within an industry and I personally believe it to be the best route that you can currently take. In comparison to university, you're not left with a huge amount of debt hanging over you at the end with no guaranteed job but instead you can work your way up the ladder at the same time as getting the required education.

What are your career goals for the future?
Once I've finished my current HNC course I'd like to continue training and apply for my EngTech qualification. Once I've achieved this, continue working my way up within the industry – with the final aim of becoming a chartered engineer.

Dominik McCormick EngTech MICE

Technician, AECOM

Nicky Day

Nicky Day, QUEST Technician

Apprentice, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff

Why did you choose to go into civil engineering?
I wanted to apply my mathematical knowledge to real life situations that benefit the community. Having the satisfaction of knowing my work, however small or large, can benefit others is a great feeling.

What are the benefits of being an apprentice?
The practical application of skills and knowledge to the workplace and the ability to learn and earn at the same time. This enables me to achieve qualifications while applying that learning at the same time.

What was your favourite moment as an apprentice?
Being an apprentice allows me to network with other like-minded people and of the same age and ability within the industry. My favourite moment as an apprentice was our weekend away enabling us to meet all the other apprentices in the company and share our thoughts and feelings on our line of work while meeting executives and directors of the company.

If you were trying to convince someone to be an apprentice, what would you say?
Being an apprentice is a practical, money-saving option that still means that you can progress and develop within your chosen line of work. Having an opportunity to be an apprentice is a once in a lifetime opportunity - developing to become degree level standard within a line of work without the debt. You meet amazing people and can make so many brilliant friends and work colleagues.

What are your career goals for the future?
To progress within WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff and undertake a degree within civil engineering while maintaining a career path within the company. Once I have achieved this I want to be able to take as many opportunities as possible in order to enhance my knowledge and career. This could include things such as being project manager or simply travelling the world within my career.

Laura Toms

Laura Toms QUEST Technician

Technician, CORMAC Consultancy

Why did you choose to go into civil engineering?
When I finished school I had no idea what I wanted to do. Soon after leaving I was waitressing in a local pub. It was so dull and didn't push me at all. I knew I was meant for greater things so I left thinking I would get a job really easily but I was wrong. After a lot of rejections I acquired a role of eight weeks free work experience within CORMAC Solutions Ltd. I learned simple AutoCAD skills, went out with engineers and looked at drainage schemes, I learnt how to price and became totally engrossed in this new role I never knew existed. I applied for a position on the technician training scheme and was successful. So I didn't so much choose to go into it, I stumbled into it and it is the best thing that ever happened to me.

What are the benefits of being an apprentice?
You are able to earn a living while you learn. You're also gaining experience in the industry which I think is just as important as education. You are able to gain great knowledge from other colleagues and learn some things you couldn't learn in a class room. This also benefits the employer as the apprentice rapidly gains new skills through training and gets to put them into practice in a work environment.

What was your favourite moment as an apprentice?
I think it would have to be an event I took part in with my employer called 'Raising Aspirations'. Primary schools from the local area came to a career day where we explained what civil engineers do, what kind of daily tasks I have and we also set up a little activity relating to civil engineering. It gave them an insight to a career they may not have known about, also showing that it most definitely isn't a male-only career. One of them enthusiastically tell me that they wanted to be a civil engineer.

If you were trying to convince someone to be an apprentice, what would you say?
I would say, undoubtedly, go for it. It has to be the best thing I've done, I am so proud to tell people what I am working on, what I have learnt and show them completed groundworks which I had a part in creating.

What are your career goals for the future?
My immediate goal is to pass my HNC in civil engineering and gain my EngTech professional membership with ICE. Through my current training with Cormac I will be exposed to several different aspects of highway engineering on a rotational basis. This will enable me to experience three or four different roles and help me choose my future career path when jobs become available.

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