This National Apprenticeship Week, Seymour Civil Engineering is celebrating the success of a former apprentice, who’s passion and drive to succeed within the construction industry resulted in him being named a finalist in the Generation 4 Change CENE Student of the Year Award 2017.
Will Wood, 21, joined Seymour Civil Engineering in September 2012 as a Management Trainee apprentice, alongside studying for a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment at the College.
Since then, Will has gone on to complete a HNC in Civil Engineering through the College and is currently working towards a BEng (Hons) degree in Civil Engineering at Teesside University.
Will said: “Within the first year of my apprenticeship I spent time shadowing team members within different departments, covering everything from accounts and estimating, to quantity surveying and working on-site.
“As I wasn’t very familiar with the different roles available within the industry, this approach gave me the chance to shadow team members, gain a thorough understanding of the business as a whole, and narrow down which areas interested me the most.
“A real turning point for me was getting the chance to work as an engineer’s assistant on one of Seymour’s largest projects at the Lake Estate in Hebburn, near Gateshead.
“It quickly became obvious to me that being out on-site and getting stuck in was where I wanted to be. Thanks to the encouragement of the site engineers that I was working with, I took a turn at completing various jobs and over time I found myself doing more and more, unaided. Slowly and surely, I was doing full days and becoming a competent engineer.”
Will has been involved in multiple projects to date covering many different aspects of civil engineering including drainage jobs, groundworks, foundations for housing projects, sewer diversion, development infrastructure, highway works and sea defence works.
Stand out schemes for Will have included working as a site engineer on the award-winning Hartlepool Town Wall project, and working as a site supervisor on the regeneration of Church Street and Church Square in the town.
“Working on-site was really daunting at first and I constantly questioned whether I could do the jobs I was being given. Yet my team knew I was capable and were there to support me.
“Looking back they weren’t asking me to do anything overly complicated, but the fact they trusted me to work by myself helped massively towards growing my confidence. I had no other choice than to stand on my own two feet and get on with it, and as scary as it was at times, there was always someone available to help me if I needed it.
“When I started my apprenticeship I was quite shy and not very outgoing, yet spending time in a working environment from being 16 has helped me develop and grow as a person. I am now more than happy to step up to responsibilities and speak to people.
“When I compare myself to other students on my university course now, I can confidently say I am head and shoulders above them, not only in terms of experience in the industry, but in my work mentality.
“It’s quite crazy to think how far I’ve come since starting at Seymour in 2012. My apprenticeship has provided me with so many incredible opportunities that have forged me a career I love in a brilliant industry, and without it I’m not sure where I would be now.
Having completed the programme, Will highly recommends taking the apprenticeship route in to the engineering industry.
“Apprenticeships are without a doubt the best way for young people to start a career in an area that they may not have heard of or even considered before, which tends to be the case for civil engineering.
“Many classroom based programs often fail to teach the specific skills and techniques required on the job, yet an apprenticeship gives you the practical experience alongside the theory, the opportunity to embed what you’ve learnt by putting it in to practice straight away.”
“Sitting back and watching the skills gap grow in front of our eyes can no longer be an option if the industry is going to keep up with the ever-growing demand for qualified professionals. 2018 needs to be the year that civil engineering firms invest in their futures, by going the extra mile to inspire the next generation.
“It’s all about investing in apprentices, prioritising their development, and beaming with pride watching them flourish and grow within their roles. I’ll be eternally grateful for the chance Seymour gave me, and I now believe it’s my turn to encourage the engineers of the future.”