National Apprenticeship Week runs from 5 to 9 March and brings together employers and apprentices from across England to celebrate the positive impact apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy. Today we reflect on how one apprenticeship put a member of the Lower Thames Crossing team on the pathway to a great career.
Malcolm Orford confesses to finding school easy but not particularly stimulating. After initially taking up A levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, he decided at 17 to start a 5-year civil engineering apprenticeship at a local authority.
Malcolm now leads a large team of talented individuals on the critically important Lower Thames Crossing Consents team.
Apprenticeships work… for individuals
When asked about the impact his apprenticeship had on his career, Malcolm’s response was simple: “it made my career”. He credits this, for the most part, to the rounded experience he was offered on his apprenticeship. Moving to a different department every 9 months, he gained a broad range of knowledge, supplemented by one day and one evening per week at college.
As well as a wealth of experience, Malcolm also made lifelong friends during his apprenticeship. They still get together every year for an afternoon of reminiscing.
Malcolm feels strongly about exploring apprenticeship opportunities to kick-start your career: “I loved it and wouldn’t change anything about my apprenticeship. Except maybe that it was longer.”
Apprenticeships work… for employers
Malcolm sees the value of apprenticeships to more than just the individual. He is confident that there are real benefits for employers as well. “The level of retention is high and apprentices are eager to learn. You are able to offer varied, challenging and exciting work and invest in the next generation of highly skilled employees.”
Having had the opportunity to take on apprentices in his teams throughout his career, Malcolm recommends that apprentices take the time to inform themselves about all their options and where their careers could take them.
Apprenticeships at Highways England
Samantha Pierce, a Highways England apprentice, is enjoying the diversity of her workload. “I was passionate to learn more about infrastructure and the public sector, and how the infrastructure industry is adapting to cope with future population growth,” said Samantha. “As an apprentice, I work on 3 of the biggest infrastructure projects in the UK, including the Lower Thames Crossing. This allows me to gain lots of new skills and experiences as I have many different areas to get involved in, whether it is working with the customer, the communications team or project governance. This variation has made the start of my career very interesting.”
Highways England offers a wide range of apprenticeships across the organisation that allow you to earn as you learn. Apprentices either carry out work-based learning or attend college as part of the working week, and have the support of a talented coach or mentor to help develop the skills and knowledge needed to pursue an exciting career.
New recruits will be helping to play a part in modernising England’s motorways and major A-roads by developing and delivering technically advanced projects, such as the Lower Thames Crossing, a new road and tunnel that will significantly improve connections between Essex, Thurrock and Kent, adding 70 per cent extra capacity across the Thames east of London.
If you would like to learn more about apprenticeship opportunities at Highways England, visit our careers website.
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