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ICE apprentices reflect on their time

Apprentices from last year’s apprenticeship have been celebrating their time shadowing past ICE president Jean Venables throughout her term.

This included regional visits, meetings, observing the ICE Council and gaining insight into the day-to-day workings of the ICE. They were also able to get involved in discussions on some prominent issues in the industry, such as sustainable development and environmental solutions.

“The President’s Apprentice Scheme is a gateway to the wider civil engineering community. It has enabled me to think outside the box and see the wider issues affecting the industry, which has broadened my commercial awareness, particularly during these tough times,” explained apprentice Blessing Gwena, from Kier London.

Learning the trade

Each of the five apprentices enjoyed different aspects of the experience and emerged from the scheme with different skills. Emer Owens from Lagan Construction said she particularly enjoyed premeeting briefings, or discussing the events after they happened with Venables. “They often proved to be more insightful than the event itself,” she said.

Alistair Smith from WSP Group found that following a visit to Morpeth, a town devastated by the 2008 floods, he considered the bigger picture when confronted with a challenge. He said: “Political, legislative or fiscal issues as opposed to engineering limitations were evident in Morpeth, which I realise can constrain proposals on many projects.”

Lili Tao from Atkins enjoyed having the opportunity “to gain insight into a number of key issues affecting the industry and society, especially sustainable development and environmental solutions”.

A particular issue discussed at length among the recently graduated apprentices is the challenge of keeping engineering graduates in the industry and improving job satisfaction.

Ben Ward from Aecom feels that: “If engineering companies engaged graduates in the early stages of their career by involving them in challenging, prestigious and rewarding projects, the industry will benefit as a whole, with graduates becoming more motivated to achieve and having an increased desire for further learning.”

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