1. What is your job title and department?
I’m an Assistant Engineer and I work in the Development and Infrastructure team.
2. Why did you decide to pursue an apprenticeship at SYSTRA?
I guess I fell into it really! When I left Sixth Form, I was looking for anything in the field of design or CAD work - something that allowed me to be a bit creative. I looked for a while on the GOV.UK website for inspiration and then an apprenticeship provider called Stegta ended up putting me in contact with SYSTRA. After that I happened to sort of land in Highways - it wasn’t any kind of plan to be honest, but I’ve really enjoyed myself to date so have continued on my apprenticeship journey!
I joined SYSTRA back in 2016 with the intention of doing a two-year apprenticeship, which would involve one day a week at college throughout that time. Once I’d completed those two years, I wondered whether I could carry on and do an HNC (Higher National Certificate) - the company allowed me to do that which was great. SYSTRA then asked me if I wanted to do a degree at university! I’m currently in my third year of studying for my degree now (I was able to skip the first year of my degree due to the experience I had already gained at college) and I’m still enjoying it.
3. What is the best part of your apprenticeship?
The best part of my apprenticeship is probably the flexibility of being able to learn on the job, whilst also getting a professional qualification out of it. I never really wanted to go to university straight after Sixth Form. I wanted to get into a job and get some practical experience under my belt. But being able to gain a qualification in parallel with being able to work and get that experience is great. As well as doing my Level 3 NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) and Level 4 HNC in Civil Engineering, I’ve also done my EngTech with the ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers). Through my current course I will get a Bachelor of Engineering degree and I’m also doing an Incorporated Engineer qualification with the ICE. I’m getting a lot of qualifications and experience, even though I didn’t go down the traditional route of university straight after Sixth Form - all whilst being paid at the same time!
SYSTRA has been great when it comes to educational funding and allowing me the time to study - they’ve always been very supportive of my pursuits.
4. What would you say to someone considering an apprenticeship?
Definitely do it! In my opinion it’s a whole lot better than going straight through education. That path often provides very little exposure to valuable real-world experience, unlike an apprenticeship. I never really knew about apprenticeships beforehand, but it really opened my eyes to a world of opportunity. At school it felt like everyone was being guided into going to university and it just didn’t feel right for me. A friend of mine at the time recommended that I investigate apprenticeships so that I could work and get qualified at the same time, and since then I haven’t looked back - it’s been amazing ever since. Some of my friends that have recently finished university are just starting to get comfortable being in a working environment, and I’m here with 6 years’ worth of experience and qualifications to back it up. If you’re not quite sure if university or the traditional higher education path is for you, you should definitely investigate your apprenticeship options!
5. What project(s) are you working on currently and how are you going to #BuildTheFuture?
I’m currently working on the Grovehurst Junction project. It’s a significant highway scheme on the A249 in Kent, for Kent County Council. The scheme is looking to reduce congestion on the A249, improve pedestrian and cycle facilities and support further development, housing and economic growth in the area in the future.
The Grovehurst Junction proposals change the existing grade separated dumbbell junction layout to a gyratory, requiring the construction of a new bridge over the A249, and improving pedestrian and cycle facilities. The proposal includes additional lanes and signalisation of part of the junction to accommodate future predicted flows. The two north eastern slip roads have been completely redesigned to meet the new circulatory carriageway level. The design also retains access to local businesses and properties and includes new attenuation lagoons with associated access tracks as part of the drainage strategy.
I’ve been leading on the alignment design and 3D design work for the project - I’ve worked on the road vertical and horizontal alignments and have also created a 3D master model for the whole junction. I also had the opportunity to work with colleagues in Structures, Drainage, Environmental, and Geotechnical teams to produce the main design pack. It’s been a really great experience and I look forward to being able to provide great work for Kent County Council in the future.
6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I do a bit of scouting and like to help where I can. I love to get outdoors, particularly camping or hiking, and I often go to the Peak District. Just recently I had a trip to the Lake District - it’s beautiful there if you’re lucky enough to get good weather!