As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2021, CIHT highlights up-and-coming apprentices from the highways & transportation industry. In this Q&A, we speak to AECOM apprentice and student at Leeds College of Building, Hannah Brough and find out more about her journey as a Trainee Technician.
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There were multiple reasons why I followed the apprenticeship route but a major one was that I wanted to get into the real world of work, rather than stay in full-time education. I did apply to study geography at university as a full-time student prior to this apprenticeship; however, I had a last-minute change of heart when I realised the range of apprenticeships available. An apprenticeship seemed like the perfect route for me as it allowed me to experience working full-time whilst also, enabling me to continue with my academic studies part-time. I have found that as I progress through my apprenticeship, I can apply the theories and knowledge that I have learnt directly to my work which gives me an overall greater understanding. I came across the transport planning apprenticeship at AECOM and found the topic intriguing and since being offered this role I have not looked back.
I have enjoyed a lot of things whilst working at AECOM, from specific projects I have worked on to the ADVANCE (apprentice development programme) internally in AECOM. Among all these, the thing I have enjoyed most was the opportunity to partake in a cross-sector rotation programme in the civil infrastructure end market. This rotation programme has allowed me to experience multiple working cultures and projects in different teams for 6-month placements, developing my knowledge and skills and allowing me to learn more about the range of work AECOM actually carry out. My first secondment was into the Streets Detailed Design team which was interesting as they effectively take transport planning work through to the next stage of design and then to actual physical construction, meaning I had the chance to go on to a few site visits. I am currently working in the Rail Assurance & Advisory team which is totally different to the work I am used to doing in transport planning. I have found the rail placement more challenging as there are a lot of abbreviations and technical knowledge to understand, in addition to completing the placement remotely. This programme was a great opportunity to learn new skills as well as to develop a better understanding about the business AECOM is doing. I am looking forward to my following placements.
COVID-19 has been challenging at times, particularly in the first few months of lockdown when my whole household was working from home. I think everyone was forced to adapt quickly to this “new normal” and myself, likewise, had no other option but to work remotely. I have found that how I work has changed too, for example before COVID if I had a question I could just go up to someone and ask, however, now it is more efficient to set up a daily catch-up allowing for any issues to be discussed at a scheduled time. Obviously, this is a major change but within AECOM it has been managed well. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the full reopening of the office as I miss the social interactions the office environment encourages.
As an apprentice member of the CIHT I have the benefit of being able to utilise all of the resources and events offered to help towards my continued professional development.
As an apprentice member of the CIHT I have the benefit of being able to utilise all of the resources and events offered to help towards my continued professional development. Through my membership with the CIHT I have attended multiple webinars and lectures in person before COVID-19, which I have always found incredibly informative and are based on thought-provoking topics. Additionally, the CIHT has offered multiple EngTech preparation events for young professionals which I have found particularly useful as I am currently at this stage in my career. Another large benefit of being an apprentice member of the CIHT is having the opportunity to raise my profile in the industry through multiple competitions and awards held across the regions.
The best advice that I could give to anyone considering apprenticeships in this industry, is to focus on a sector or an area that they have a particular interest in and search for relevant apprenticeships that they may enjoy. The apprenticeships available in the construction industry ranges from practical site apprenticeships to office based design apprenticeships. Often, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the construction industry is the practical on site apprenticeships; however, there are so many more options available and anyone considering apprenticeships should always do their research on what is actually available and interests them. I would also say that completing an apprenticeship is hard as you have to balance work commitments as well as academic commitments, so you have to invest a lot of your personal time to be successful. Therefore, it is imperative for any potential apprentices to consider what they would enjoy the most when choosing their career path in order to stay motivated.
The best advice that I could give to anyone considering apprenticeships in this industry, is to focus on a sector or an area that they have a particular interest in
Prior to starting my apprenticeship I had several part-time jobs, all of which helped develop my transferable skills such as communication, organisation, problem solving and time management and which have all supported my progression on this apprenticeship. With my previous work experiences I was able to settle into the role easier and this meant I could focus on developing technical skills. I have been working at AECOM for just over 2 years and during this time I have been developing both transportation-related skills such as transport modelling and general skills such as stakeholder engagement and report writing.
From the experience I have gained to date, I can see my career heading towards becoming a transport modeller as I have enjoyed the work I have carried out using transport modelling software. Therefore, I would like to develop the relevant modelling skills including theoretical and practical knowledge of various modelling software such as VISSIM, LinSig and Saturn. Also, looking further into the future, I would like to develop relevant management skills to enable me to manage both projects and people well.
Hannah has been in her role for two and a half years.
The opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the CIHT or its members. Neither the CIHT nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.