Meet our Apprentice: Liam Turner
It’s National Apprenticeship Week and we sat down with Liam Turner, one of our apprentices who won Apprentice of the Year at Leeds College of Building last year. Here Liam tells us more about what it’s like being an apprentice at SYSTRA.
Why did you join SYSTRA?
I heard that SYSTRA offered apprenticeships and thought why not apply and see what happens. The office is based in York and they undertake a lot of different discipline activities so knew it would be quite varied.
What did you know about the sector before you joined?
I didn’t know an awful lot about what I was getting into before I joined. As SYSTRA operate in over 10 disciplines I was excited to see which one I would find the most attractive. I initially applied for a role in electrification of which I knew nothing about, everything was new to me but I was willing to do anything. I now know a bit about all the disciplines which helps me in my role as a Surveyor and Safe Work Leader in the Site Services team; these role offer a varied experience at SYSTRA as I could be in the office or on site. The sector which SYSTRA operates in is predominately the rail sector and when I joined and I only knew about getting on a train at train station. I used to see the network operate when I was younger and never knew about the shear amount of work that goes into keeping the network running. I now know about what goes on behind the scenes from engineering works to route maintenance and how the trains move around the network.
Why did you want to do an apprenticeship?
When I found out about apprenticeships and did a bit of research I knew this was the method of study for me. I would be working and earning at the same time whilst gaining experience and progressing in my role. I would be given responsibility whilst still gaining a qualification … As someone once said on my course, an apprenticeship is like having a ‘ticket to the world’ in terms of experience and having a qualification as it could take you anywhere. You do have to put the work in, but it does pay off when you can apply what you’ve learnt to the real world. SYSTRA are a good company to work for and support you throughout your apprenticeship all whilst you gain something personally and financially.
How did school or college help you prepare?
I would say that school helped me prepare mostly did well at school and this gave me the foundations to apply for these roles. I assume that if I didn’t have those grades then I wouldn’t have been offered the opportunities at SYSTRA. SYSTRA do start you from the bottom with a BTEC which gives you a perfect foundation to go on and do a HNC, HND or a degree but they expect you to put in the work. From leaving school with 10 B’s I now have Distinctions in my BTEC, HNC, HND and am working towards a First Class Honours at Leeds Beckett University.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
A big challenge I faced was undertaking my COSS course which allows me to take charge of other people’s safety on site. This was a massive step in learning the rules and ensuring I keep the guys safe on site; the rail environment constantly changes and the situations never the same but, when you can get to site, undertake the work, get everyone home safe and knowing that my colleagues and SYSTRA trust me to do that its satisfying.
What’s been your biggest success or your proudest achievement?
In all my years at Leeds College of Building where I go to study on day release I have achieved the highest grade of Distinction. In addition, I was also awarded the Leeds College of Building Higher Apprentice of the Year Award. This award singled me out from all the Higher Education apprentices for my hard work and contributions to lectures. I was given the award at a ceremony at Leeds Town Hall in front of 100+ people, over 15 different employers, some of the industry’s leading people and Joe Cooper from Capital Radio. I did receive money for this award, but I got a lot of recognition from my team, the office and friends but best of all I received an e-mail from our CEO in light of this award congratulating me. This was nice to know you’re efforts are appreciated right from the top.
Describe what it’s like to work at SYSTRA in three words.
Rewarding, Dynamic, Supportive.
What do you see yourself doing after your apprenticeship?
I can see myself staying at SYSTRA as it’s such a good company to work for. They care about their employees. They keep in contact with their staff to ensure they have what they need to undertake their roles. They offer a lot of training to keep you up to date with the industry. There is a lot of support around including a 24/7 hotline for any issues you might have, mental health first aider on each floor and everyone is very approachable. I love the team I work in and my colleagues, the work is varied so keeps me on my toes and I am getting to a point where I am taking on more responsibility which is great for my progression.