The fifteenth National Apprenticeships Week took place from 7-13 February in England. This government initiative celebrates apprenticeships, showcasing the work done by apprentices of all ages and the range of apprenticeships available.
Apprenticeships combine on-the-job experience with academic study, allowing apprentices to earn a wage and work towards a qualification simultaneously. They are now available from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) through to Level 7, which is equivalent to a Masters degree. As well as being a great way into a career in engineering, approved or accredited engineering apprenticeships can also lead to professional registration at all levels, demonstrating engineering competence and commitment to an internationally-recognised standard.
Throughout the week, the Engineering Council shared case studies on social media from professionally registered engineers and technicians who are former apprentices. (Shown left to right: Euan McLean, Lauren Cunningham, Caitlin Stuart, Shakir Tahir, Frida Nzaba.)
Euan McLean EngTech MIMechE is an Integrity Engineering Technician with energy infrastructure company Doosan Babcock. He learned about professional registration during his apprenticeship, and realised he met the criteria, successfully achieving Engineering Technician (EngTech) registration at the age of 19. In 2020, he was a joint winner of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ (IMechE) Engineering Technician of the Year Award, and received six other honours in his time as an apprentice. Euan is now a STEM ambassador, volunteering at local schools’ career fairs, parents’ evenings and educational events. He also works with prospective apprentices, helping them prepare for interviews and assessments.
Lauren Cunningham EngTech MICE is an Undergraduate Highways Engineer at WSP. On gaining professional registration she says: "I am now recognised for my ability, which has enabled me to get involved with aspects of jobs I wouldn’t have originally been able to. People often stereotype apprentices and undergraduates and hold them back, but by demonstrating that my competence has been recognised by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Engineering Council, it has really opened up opportunities where I can push myself beyond the expectations others have of undergraduate engineers’ capabilities."
Frida Nzaba EngTech TMIET is an Advanced Overhaul Manufacturing Engineer with Rolls-Royce Plc. She says: “In year 10 my engineering teacher started to talk about apprenticeships at Rolls-Royce. That was the first time I learned about Rolls-Royce and the careers they offered, so I decided to apply in the hope of kick-starting my career in engineering.” Frida has won numerous awards, including BTEC Engineering Student of the Year 2013, the Precious Awards Rising Star 2020. She has been part of the Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) Young Women’s Board for the past five years.
Caitlin Stuart BEng IEng ACIBSE began an apprenticeship at Troup Bywaters + Anders after her A levels and has continued her career within the company. She won the 2015 ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award from Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), presented to her by HRH Princess Anne. Caitlin says: “I think the biggest achievement of my professional career so far would firstly be completing my degree at London South Bank University and achieving Incorporated Engineer (IEng) status… Having professional registration has meant I was able to complete my apprenticeship and move up within the company, I am now trusted to take on more responsibilities and lead projects.”
Shakir Tahir PGD TM (Open) BSc (Hons) BSc (Open) CEng MIET MRAeS is a Chartered Engineer, who began his career through an apprenticeship. “After completing my apprenticeship, I achieved EngTech registration. Since then, I knew that I wanted to work my way up to ultimately gain Chartered Engineer (CEng) status … Getting professionally registered is important for me to show that I have all the competencies and experiences that reflect my seniority within the industry.”
Registrants also actively involved in working with and supporting apprentices, including Tracey Richardson EngTech LCGI MCIPHE RP, the first female president of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE). She offered her expertise during the development of the Trailblazer Apprenticeships for plumbing and heating, and has been working to help more people enter the industry. A Chartered Engineer working for SP Energy Networks (part of ScottishPower), Mark Goudie MEng CEng FIET FIES is passionate about widening access and financial support for students and apprentices, including as the Chair of the IET Horizons Bursary. Mark Anthony Santiago MBA BSc IEng AEng GMICE MIEI MIET mentors graduating civil engineering students in the Philippines through the Expanded Virtual Internship of Students via Mentoring or Apprenticeship (EVISMA) programme, while Matthew Foyle MSc BEng IEng MIET mentors mechanical and electrical apprentices within Wessex Water and has recently developed a new apprenticeship recruitment programme.
National Apprenticeships Week is an opportunity to highlight the many benefits apprenticeships offer both employers and individuals. This year’s theme ‘Build the Future’ reflects how apprenticeships can help individuals develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career, while also helping businesses to develop a talented workforce equipped with future-ready skills.
The government’s apprenticeships website includes listings of apprenticeships, events happening over the course of the week, video case studies of apprentices talking about their experiences, as well as information for employers about how to hire apprentices and find the right apprenticeship for their organisation.
Find out more on the Apprenticeships website, or follow #NAW2022 on social media.