Today marks the beginning of National Apprenticeship Week 2024!
Apprenticeships are open to all. Irrespective of age, background, or level, there are opportunities for anyone looking to break into a specific sector or industry. Apprenticeships help develop skills for life that afford an individual the relevant experience employers are looking for, kick-starting a successful and fulfilling career.
In recognition of how beneficial apprenticeships can be, we spoke to some Walter Lilly team members about how their own apprenticeships carved the path for their journeys within construction, and what advice they have for those considering an apprenticeship route.
Rhys Baldwin – Site Service Manager
“I completed an Advanced Apprenticeship in Electrotechnical Services. This comprised an NVQ Level 3 in Electrotechnical Services, Electrical Installation (Building and Structures), and an NVQ Level 3 in Electrical Installation Engineering.”
Hannah Tyers MRICS – Surveyor
“Last year, I graduated from a 5-year Day Release Degree Apprenticeship.”
Bradley Cheeseman – Surveyor
“I completed a 5-year Day Release Apprenticeship at the University of Westminster and graduated in 2022.”
Regan Snowdon – FM Projects Contracts Manager
“I completed a Carpentry and Joinery NVQ Level 2 and 3.”
Erica Denman – Assistant Engineer
“I completed a BEng Degree at London South Bank University as part of the Company apprenticeship scheme.”
Stuart Cecil-Dennett – Divisional Commercial Manager (HQR)
“I completed a Day Release BSc in Quantity Surveying at Greenwich University.”
Jordan Sutton – Site Manager
“I originally embarked upon a two-year HNC Diploma Apprenticeship on Day Release, then progressing to Degree level for 3 years, also on Day Release, which ultimately completed in 2022.”
Q) How did your apprenticeship benefit you?
Hannah Tyers MRICS: “The construction industry is hands on and the most effective way to learn is to be right in the mix of the hustle and bustle! Actively listening in on meetings and understanding subcontractor work processes has allowed me to broaden my knowledge and recognise the many facets of construction.”
Bradley Cheesman: “My apprenticeship supported me in developing my knowledge and skills within a working environment, meaning I could gain experience within the construction industry whilst concurrently studying for a degree. The apprenticeship also enhanced my university experience, as I could draw upon the knowledge and skills I had learnt at work and apply it to my coursework and exams.”
Regan Snowdon: “It gave me an understanding of the practical application of construction which I now monitor and manage. It helped me hone my understanding of how to collaborate with people across all levels and disciplines of a wider construction team.”
Erica Denman: “I was able to study part time and work the remainder. This allowed me to gain crucial hands-on experience and put the practical skills I learned on site to use when studying in the classroom.”
Q) Did your apprenticeship help you achieve your career goals?
Rhys Baldwin: “Absolutely! The career I’ve had would not have been possible without learning a trade first. My apprenticeship gave me the skills to become a fully qualified Electrician, which served as the foundation for all my technical and practical knowledge.”
Regan Snowdon: “Like many 17-year-olds, I had no clear objectives, but knew I wanted a practical job as I’ve always enjoyed making things. This led me to my apprenticeship which has underpinned my career and propelled me forward to where I am today.”
Stuart Cecil-Dennett: “Sat answering this question today, I would say I’m still working towards achieving my ultimate career goals. However, if I reflect on my apprenticeship which I pursued aged 18, I’ve managed to accomplish far more than I ever thought possible!”
Jordan Sutton: “Completing my apprenticeship has greatly benefitted my career at Walter Lilly. Acquiring a base level of knowledge encompassing all aspects of construction lends you a good head start when approaching a new project, trade or discipline. I am still early on in my career; with a lot I’d like to achieve. My apprenticeship, however, has been ticked off the list, having shown me what career path I would like to pursue within the construction industry.”
Q) Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others?
Hannah Tyers MRICS: “Yes, working alongside my studies helped shape my understanding of the modules at university and gave me the experience I needed to apply for my chartership in my final year. Apprenticeships also allow you to network early in your career, helping to develop interpersonal and business development skills critical to success in a collaborative industry such as construction. It is a great opportunity to utilise the experience of other professionals who have been in the industry a long time, applying shared lessons learnt and best practice.”
Bradley Cheeseman: “Absolutely. The apprenticeship pathway allows you to gain industry experience whilst studying concurrently. Although time consuming, it is worth the effort and will help you stand out when compared to others. Working at the same time also means you can support yourself through a steady income, granting a level of financial security during your studies which is appealing to everyone.”
Stuart Cecil-Dennett: “I think it very much depends on personal circumstances and preferences. For me, an apprenticeship was a fantastic route into construction, allowing me to start ‘working’ several years earlier than a conventional degree would have allowed. This suited me as someone who favoured practical tasks over academic. That said, there are benefits and compromises with both routes, so it really depends on the individual and your preferred ways of learning.”
Jordan Sutton: “I would definitely recommend the apprenticeship route to those who are looking to earn whilst studying. Recognising that employers seek candidates who possess both the right experience and qualifications, an apprenticeship gives you a professional advantage that helps set you apart from the competition.”
Q) What advice can you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?
Rhys Baldwin: “My top tip would be to persevere; it has its moments of difficulty but will be rewarding when you overcome them and ultimately succeed.”
Hannah Tyers MRICS: “The edge of your comfort zone is where the most personal development and growth happens. Putting yourself in new situations on site and working directly with subcontractors will be the start of your journey in the industry!”
Stuart Cecil-Dennett: “This applies to all apprenticeships, not just construction – don’t underestimate the opportunity it represents, stick with it and make the most of it. There will be times when your friends are working less hours, earning more money, or having fun at university, whilst you’ll be preoccupied balancing a full-time job, a commute and your studies. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but the long-term benefits to your career will make it all worthwhile.”
Jordan Sutton: “My top tip is to start exploring the companies operating within your area of interest and find out who is offering these courses. You may be able to gain some work experience beforehand if you speak to the right people. Also, if you meet the criteria for a sponsorship, you won’t have the burden of university fees!”