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 Mott MacDonald apprentice and student at Leeds College of Building, Lydia Jennings and find out more about her journey as a Transport Planning Apprentice.
Join other savvy professionals just like you at CIHT. We are committed to fulfilling your professional development needs throughout your career
When I left secondary school, I was a bit lost and unsure of what to do, so I started exploring my options. I was open to the idea of an alternate path to college and full time university and was drawn to the mix of work and college and getting experience at the same time as learning. Stepping into a different environment, like any significant change, is a risk. But I can gladly say its reaping the rewards.
Getting the feeling that you are impacting people’s lives in a positive way is thoroughly worthwhile. I have enjoyed learning about the future of transport and differences between countries. Examples of major projects that I have worked on include the Heathrow runway extension and improving access to a National Park through active and public transport schemes. Alongside these, I have appreciated writing travel plans for residential and commercial sites to discourage single occupancy car use, designing travel information booklets for new residents and all aspects of my college course at Leeds College of Building.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, our team and every other team has adapted and overcome many challenges. We started working from home and initially had less work from our clients as they weren’t spending as much. But we have settled to working differently and I look forward to working in the office a little bit more, even if we never return to full-time there. I have learnt so much about myself during this time and to look for the positives in every situation which at first might seem negative.
Getting the feeling that you are impacting people’s lives in a positive way is thoroughly worthwhile.
Networking is a really important part of any job and crucial to kick start your career. As they say, ‘it’s who you know, not what you know!’. From going to college and CIHT events, I have gained insight into how other teams and organisations work and met some amazing people. A highlight was a young professionals conference in Manchester with a range of short talks on many aspects link to transportation and highways. I gained knowledge on how technology is only part of the answer because as a society we need to change too, as well as innovation ideas in sustainability alongside people themed talks. I am applying this knowledge in the work I do in my job and hopefully inspire others.
In addition, there is plenty of opportunities to win awards and enter competitions. These include writing competitions about theoretical scenarios, entering the Apprentice of the Year Award and other awards for climate change, collaboration, and innovation. These are a great way to stand out and even if you don’t win, they are great fun to enter!
Look into projects that a company has worked on and where you could progress after the apprenticeship, in terms of higher roles they offer. When you are an apprentice, immerse yourself in your team and the company, join events and network through social activities. This will help you get to know people and if you work with them in the future, it can be slightly easier. There’s more than you think on the surface because everything relates to transport and you can get involved in such a wide variety of projects. You don’t need a degree to launch your career either!
From going to college and CIHT events, I have gained insight into how other teams and organisations work and met some amazing people.
I believe I bring organisation and determination to my role. While I have been working, I have definitely developed my IT skills and picked up knowledge on various software packages. Also, resilience, which is a word I think we can all relate to over the past year because all of us have overcome barriers.
Expanding soft and hard skills is important and we should always be striving to develop in our roles no matter what we do so we can keep learning and challenging ourselves. I would like to advance my written communication and verbal delivery to become more confident talking to external clients. This will better over time and as I progress in my role. Hard skills I would like to learn more about include Adobe InDesign, which will be useful when designing leaflets and booklets to inform people about their sustainable travel options, and learn more about the features in ArcGIS, a geographical mapping software, because it has many useful tools.
And to finish, a quote from Enrique Peñalosa, the former Mayor of Bogota: ‘A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it’s where the rich ride public transport.’
Lydia Jennings has been in her role for the past 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.