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13 December 2010

Employers collaborate to launch first consultancy civil engineering apprenticeship

The UK’s first consultancy civil engineering apprenticeship was officially launched at South Thames College on 10 December 2010. The apprenticeship has been developed by a consortium of the UK’s top engineering consultancies including Mott MacDonald, Hyder Consulting (UK) Limited, Capita Symonds, WSP, Arup and Halcrow, with help from Transport for London (TfL), the National Apprenticeship Service and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

The apprenticeship’s introduction comes at a time when London is beginning to bounce back from recession. But there are skills gaps in key sectors of engineering, construction and IT, and a need to bring in new recruits to an increasingly ageing workforce. To help tackle the situation, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has set the Greater London Authority (GLA) and its supply chain a target of creating 1000 apprenticeships a year. As one of the capital’s largest employers TfL has embedded skills and employment requirements into many of its contracts including the Engineering and Project Management Framework (EPMF).

Mott MacDonald, Hyder Consulting, Capita Symonds, WSP, Arup and Halcrow are all appointed to the EPMF and formed a consortium to use their collective demand to create a new qualification giving young people who don’t want to, or don’t have the necessary results to go to university, the opportunity to gain a professional qualification. The consortium worked with the ICE, the National Apprenticeship Service, the GLA Supplier Skills Team and South Thames College to develop the qualification in time for the start of the 2010 academic year.

The consortium’s first apprentices – eight in total, three from Mott MacDonald and one each from the other consortium members – now spend a day a week in the classroom studying for the Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (Civil Engineering). The rest of the week is spent putting theory into practice on engineering projects. Once the apprentices complete their formal studies in 2013 and have also completed the work based component of the qualification, they will sit the ICE’s EngTech professional review. If successful this will result in membership of the ICE and will be a stepping stone towards chartership.

Andrew Quincey, Transport for London’s Director of Group Procurement, said: “This approach is an excellent example of genuine innovation and sector leadership from within the TfL supply chain. By collaborative working this consortium has been able to directly address skills gaps within the industry whilst also opening up new employment opportunities for young Londoners to access.”

At the recent Mayor's Responsible Procurement Awards, which recognise the contributions that suppliers to the GLA make in using procurement to deliver value for London, the apprenticeship programme won the skills and employment supplier award. The citation read: “The winner of the skills and employment supplier category has displayed genuine innovation and sector leadership in driving forward an approach that has seen six industry competitors collaborating with public sector partners including the National Apprenticeship Service, ICE and South Thames College to open up a pioneering route into the engineering industry.”

It is hoped that the consortium will expand in 2011 to include other consultancies and so increase the number of students entering the programme. It is also hoped that this civil engineering qualification will be replicated across England and Wales using the same consortium approach.


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