Apprenticeships providing a world of opportunity

Some of the apprentices that Arup has welcomed to its Midlands campus.

Apprentice of the Year winner at this year’s Consultancy and Engineering Awards, Jordan Laraway of Arup, writes about the increasing popularity of apprenticeships as a route into the industry. 

An apprenticeship is a work-based training programme that gives people the opportunity to gain professional qualifications whilst also getting invaluable on-the-job experience. It is an ever-developing training programme, growing in both popularity and academic opportunities, with more and more young people viewing this as the preferred option to launch their career. 

Working for Arup as a railway engineering apprentice myself, it is an exciting prospect to know that by the end of my apprenticeship I would have earnt my degree and have gained almost five years of work experience, which would only be a year longer than the equivalent of three years of full-time study and a year sandwich placement.  

In the UK alone, Arup’s apprenticeship intake increased by 97% between 2010-2016, emphasising the increasing popularity of the route with students and employers alike. With the number and standard of people applying for apprenticeships increasing every year, the academic routes available to potential apprentices are expanding to accommodate demand, as demonstrated by the introduction of the degree apprenticeship.

Degree apprenticeships give people the chance to achieve their degree whilst gaining at least five years of industry experience. With the launch of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017 the scheme is now even more appealing to employers looking to recruit and develop staff. The levy is a fund employers pay into, which is in turn used to finance academic costs. In order to draw down from the levy, the funds would have to go towards putting someone through an approved apprenticeship scheme. 

As well as these economic advantages of employing an apprentice, apprenticeship schemes give employers the opportunity to train apprentices to suit their specific requirements, which assists in freeing up existing staff time and enables employers to address skill gaps within their organisation. 

Taking all of the above into account, one can reasonably expect the popularity and academic prospects of the apprenticeship programme to continue their growth trend. With more apprentices being trained to a degree level, the progression options available are likely to expand as a result and it is increasingly likely that post-graduate courses will be developed in the future, enabling graduates of the apprenticeship scheme to progress even further.

Jordan Laraway is a civil engineering technician at Arup.