Thames Tideway reaffirms commitment to apprentices with pledge to reach 400

Tideway apprentice Ray Cantwell.

The Thames Tideway tunnel project has today vowed to inspire the next generation with its commitment to create up to 400 apprenticeships during the construction of London’s super sewer.

The pledge marks National Apprenticeship Week with bosses keen to increase the current number of 49 apprentices working on the project as part its 1,700-strong workforce. The total number of jobs on the project is expected to grow to 4,000 in the next 12 months and with one in every 50 an apprenticeship, there is many more set to become an instrumental part.

Of the 49 apprentices, 92% are on advanced or higher-level apprentices, a total of 87 apprenticeship opportunities have been offered to date, according to Tideway.

Scott Young, head of skills and employment at Tideway, said: “With the UK predicted to need 182,000 new engineers by 2022, the skills gap in the engineering and construction industry is clear. We aim to help address this issue by inspiring and training the next generation of engineers, supervisors, operatives, and river workers, for both current and future projects. Along with our contractors, we offer a number of apprenticeship opportunities across a range of functions including business, civil engineering, the trades, surveying, and as marine operatives. This year we will start to recruit project management apprentices.”

Ray Cantwell is a graduate apprentice and makes up one of the 49 currently on board. He is a site engineer at Tideway and is on the verge of becoming a qualified civil engineer, working within one of the project’s management team. He is in his third year of a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at Kingston University and is set to graduate in mid-2019.  

“At the age of 16 I finished school with no idea what I wanted to do. I spent the summer looking at my options and started to look at what other skills I had, I realised I was good at maths and sciences,” the apprentice said. “I went to a career show and told them what I was interested in and asked what I should go for and that’s where I first found out about civil engineering. I’m a bit more practical and initially I didn’t know that meant I could be out working on a site.”

The third year student is sponsored throughout, meaning he is reimbursed an agreed percentage of his study costs if he meets his grades, another great benefit of an apprenticeship. 

Cantwell added: “I’ve basically eliminated concerns about debt. By the time I’m done, I’ll be a fully qualified engineer with eight or nine years’ experience which is unheard of at my age. It’s the ideal situation. Some people are still paying their student loan off when they’re fifty, the fact that I’m not going to have that is huge.”

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