The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is to ‘Build the Future’.
At Keltbray, we believe our apprentices are essential in building the future as they make up the next generation of talent, and as such are crucial in providing the UK with innovative, sustainable build and infrastructure engineering solutions.
Situated within our Built Environment, Rail and Energy services, Keltbray are committed to enrolling, training and supporting our apprentices by giving them access to skills which will not only build their future, but the UK’s infrastructure too.
Therefore, every day this week we bring you stories from a selection of Keltbray’s many future-focused apprentices. They share with us their experiences and what an apprenticeship means here at Keltbray.
Tuesday 9th February 2021
Rod McDowall – Senior Appointed Person
“I work for Keltbray’s Distribution and Transmission service on the Scottish Power contract in Scotland. I previously held a BEng (Hons) in Electrical Engineering (power systems) and decided I would like to progress beyond my Degree. I thoroughly enjoy my current role. Whilst it is challenging, it is also very satisfying.
I was enrolled through Keltbray on a Degree apprenticeship route, which is a two-year master’s in professional engineering. I have worked in the Power Industry for 30 years and I think that it is fantastic to have an opportunity to further progress my academic skills and to enhance my operational capabilities and age has no barriers.
In my many years working in the Utilities Industry, I feel Keltbray is by far the best company I have worked with in developing people and giving their staff the opportunity to thrive and prosper. I am also a STEM ambassador and I feel that apprenticeships are the key to our country’s successful future, my son works part time with us whilst finishing his Engineering Degree, this is testament to the Keltbray mindset of investing in the future.”
I think that there is no better route to fulfilling one’s potential than on the job learning, blended with the theory that an apprenticeship provides, and to do this through Keltbray is a great opportunity with a world class company.
Outside of his studies, Rod is one of Keltbray’s Mental Health First Aiders and Health & Wellbeing Advocates. In his spare time he is also a volunteer for the Samaritans. Not only does he continue to progress his career and develop himself through his apprenticeship, Rod recognises that physical and mental wellbeing is vital to the ongoing development of the workforce and takes the time to listen and provide support to his colleagues whenever he can.
Wednesday 10th February 2021
Ben Stokoe – Graduate Engineer
I have been working for WHP (Wentworth House Partnership) and Keltbray for four years. I initially joined the company as a trainee technician and have recently progressed to engineer.
I am currently on a civil engineering apprenticeship course at South Bank University, London. I have been on the course for nearly four years and it finishes after five. Joining WHP as a trainee technician, alongside a part time HNC in civil engineering, gave me the confidence and motivation to then progress onto the third year of the BEng apprenticeship. The thing I enjoy the most doing my apprenticeship is the sense of satisfaction of enhancing my ability, my studies and myself within the company.
I think apprenticeships have real value in the construction industry as it is important to have practical, hands on experience. I believe it is very helpful to apply the theory you learn in real life situations. It helps you learn at a faster pace. My experience has been good and the final outcome will feel very rewarding.
Finally, the one piece of advice I would give to anyone thinking about starting an apprenticeship would be:
“You might have a few stressful moments to come but it will be extremely rewarding, just try your best.”
Thursday 11th February 2021
Emma McDonald – Training Team Leader
“I would recommend an apprenticeship to everyone who works in Keltbray. It is a way of learning new skills and developing in yourself whilst actively working in your role. Apprenticeships are designed to help develop home-grown talent and fill the identified skills gaps within a company, and also helps the company grow and develop with you.
I am currently 2/3’s of the way through my apprenticeship, having completed five modules & 20% off the job training. Once these modules are completed I will go ‘through gateway’, where I will undertake a project which will take about four months to complete.
I will present my project at the ‘End Point Assessment’ and participate in a question and answer session to showcase how I have achieved the Skills, Knowledge and Behaviour standards. This will take place around August this year. If I pass, I will have then completed my apprenticeship.
The biggest milestone that I have hit so far would be completing my fifth module and assignment, meaning I have achieved the CIPD element of the apprenticeship. Although this won’t be formally confirmed until the end of the apprenticeship, I feel this is a huge milestone to get to as there were times when it all felt a little daunting and unachievable. Looking ahead at what still needs doing is daunting, but knowing how far I have come helps spur me on and keeps me focused on what’s in front of me.
So far, I would say my apprenticeship has enabled me to gain more knowledge and a better understanding of how a Learning & Development department assists a company, not just in delivering and arranging training for employees but assisting with identifying skills gaps. It has also shown me how we can assist in filling these gaps by creating specific training and learning opportunities.
On a personal note, my apprenticeship has shown me that it doesn’t matter how old you are, there is always more to learn. Being a more ‘mature’ student, I found it hard at first to get going and get back into the mind set of studying and learning. As the course has progressed, I have learned more about myself, grown in confidence and have gained a better understanding of how my role contributes to our department achieving our overall outcomes.
My aim now is to continue to support the Learning & Development Team to achieve our goals. There has been recent talk of me maybe looking at the Level 7 apprenticeship next. Watch this space.”
Friday 12th February 2021
Michael Allen- Senior CAD Technician
“I currently work for Wentworth House Partnership (WHP) and studied a HNC in Civil Engineering for 2 years. I was told about the HNC course by various colleagues and the WHP directors.
Coming from a background unrelated to engineering, I enjoyed the course as it gave me a foundation to understand what our work entails and also what colleagues were discussing when it came to scheme designs.
The projects we work on provide challenges and offer a variation that keeps the job interesting. The people I work with are good, helpful people with a lot of knowledge to share and many experienced staff that you can learn from.
Although I stopped my studies after the HNC, I would recommend doing an apprenticeship with Keltbray. I personally learn by doing a task hands on rather than reading about it and I have certainly learnt far more from working with WHP and my colleagues than I did whilst studying the HNC.
Two of my colleagues are close to finishing their apprenticeship degrees and both agree that it was a good route to take on their way to becoming engineers. I believe the training and development team do a good job in aiding all apprentices and staff with any questions/queries they may have.
Personally, I believe apprenticeships are the way forward. Rather than spend three to five years at University building your theoretical knowledge, and not have a foundation or basic working knowledge of the specific field you want to work in, apprenticeships allow for the best of both study and real world experience and knowledge.
I would tell anyone thinking about starting an apprenticeship to go for it. It’s a good way to start your career in engineering, and is made better when supported by a good, helpful team like the one’s we have here at Keltbray.”
Friday 12th February 2021
Michelle Mitchelson – PA & Team Assistant
Before Keltbray, I tried my hand at various careers until l finally found my perfect niche. I left school convinced that I wanted to be a critical care/intensive care nurse. I did this for a year through University and worked in hospitals, but very soon realised that my empathy was going to be my biggest downfall. I ended up changing courses to Human Movement Science and also completed a Personal Training Qualification and a Pilates Instructor Qualification.
After three years of missing too many special occasions with family and friends, working weekends and far too many 4am morning starts for my liking, I knew this was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I have always been good at organising, love getting things done and organising schedules and diaries and am quite a perfectionist so it just made sense that being a PA was what I was always meant to be.
Fast forward to now, I am currently PA to Kyla Farmer, Group People Director, and Peter Burnside, Chief Financial Officer. I also assist others on the Executive Board when required, so I work across the business.
Whilst working as a PA, I was offered the chance to do a Business Admin NVQ Level 3 apprenticeship. I started it in November 2020 and hope to complete it by the end of this year.
I have always been someone who loved to learn just for the sake of learning and I enjoy new challenges so I jumped at the opportunity to do this apprenticeship. So far I have enjoyed learning more about Keltbray and understanding more about how the company works.
I also like the flexibility of my apprenticeship. For example, if I’m busier than usual one week, I can catch up hours the following week. I am also allowed to take longer to complete the course if I need to or choose to do so. This really helps when juggling studying, work and life commitments, and means I can take the pressure off myself if I need to. I also have a tutor who I can raise queries to if I’m in need of assistance and also makes sure I’m on the right track, as I meet with them on a regular 4-6 week basis.
I’ve found previously when doing courses externally, they were always ‘generalised’ or based upon possible scenarios. An apprenticeship, however, is tailored to your current company and allows you to fully understand how you fit into it by allowing you to practice your learning within your role. I find this approach far better than any of my previous qualifications, where all of my learning was just scenario based.
Personally, I really enjoy working at Keltbray. I am very fortunate to have a great team and people that I work closely with. I never imagined that I would end up at a Construction / Demolition / Engineering company but now that I have, I do not think I would ever go back to anything else.
There is such a wide variety of markets Keltbray operates in across various sectors, so you truly do seem to learn something new all the time. I have also seen many people start in one area of Keltbray and end up in another, i.e. starting in the HSQE department and then end up in the Finance department or starting in our Built Environment division and then moving across to our Rail division. There really is no role set in stone and you never know what you might enjoy more.
It is also exciting to see that we also have a growing number of women who work on sites in what used to be previously seen as a ‘man’s role’ and they love it. It really shows that no one size fits all at Keltbray. It’s exciting to see how diverse Keltbray has become and is becoming, and I can’t wait to see how we continue to progress in the area of Diversity and Inclusion.
I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship at Keltbray. It is a great way to study further while also working and gaining experience in the workplace. I am so grateful that I was able to experience such a variety of roles and meet so many different people but I can certainly say I finally found my vocation.
The advice I would give to someone just about to start an apprenticeship would be:
Never limit yourself, ask ALL the questions, and you are never too old to start something new (apprenticeships are not just for those who have just finished school).
‘It’s never too late to be what you might’ve been.” – George Eliot.