Routes into civil engineering
With National Apprenticeship week in full-swing we hear from Civil Engineering Degree Apprentice Lewis Huston about his apprenticeship journey and studying at degree level at the University of Brighton.
“My first apprenticeship was a Level 3 diploma in Civil Engineering, which I did at the college of Northwest London. My current employer South East Water took me on as an apprentice in the engineering team – I wasn’t sure exactly the kind of direction I wanted to go in but after settling in I decided Civil Engineering was the route for me.
“They were quite flexible about which engineering route I would take and left that for me to decide. Once I had made my decision, they fully supported me with enrolling on the programme. “I never wanted to stop at Level 3 and knew I could go straight from that to Level 6, so thought ‘why not?’. I knew it was a five-year journey so it was a very big commitment, but it was an ideal option for me to work with the same company whilst learning and applying that to work – which would take me right up to a level where I can become an incorporated engineer with the Institute of Civil Engineers, and then maybe eventually go for a masters degree and then chartership.
“After I had completed my Level 3, I was looking around for suitable degree apprenticeships and found the one at the University of Brighton. I really liked the look of the programme and it sounded like they had good facilities, so it was a perfect fit for me.
“On the programme so far, we’ve been doing a lot of mathematics, which although I don’t do a lot of in my job right now, as my role at work progresses it’s definitely something that I will need when I come to design work, so I can already see the links. My job currently is mostly supporting people and projects that we’ve got going on but as I develop, I’ll get the opportunity to be involved in larger and more complicated projects, which will allow me to apply my learning directly to my job.
“I think for my employer, it’s a good move for them to hire an apprentice. They get someone who’s obviously got an interest in the business and the industry, but also someone who’s a bit of a blank canvas for them to teach and train. It gives them a dynamic resource with someone who hasn’t decided on a set path within that sector and just wants to learn –I was lucky that my employer would have supported whatever engineering apprenticeship route I wanted to take. I think through this route you can adapt your interests as you progress through the apprenticeship levels, as opposed to deciding what you want to do upfront in a more traditional degree route and being able to earn while you’re learning is obviously a big positive. Anyone who is considering doing an apprenticeship, I would say definitely go for it because it opens up a lot of career opportunities for you.”