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National Apprentice Week | Baggage handler to Luton airport engineer

Terminal building Luton Airport

An Aecom apprentice has opened up about going from a baggage handler at Luton Airport to working on its expansion.

Hamse Hassan, a 22-year-old in the third year of a five year civil engineering course at London South Bank University, spoke to New Civil Engineer about his story to mark the beginning on National Apprentice Week.

After beginning work as a baggage handler at the airport in 2016 following his A-Levels, Hassan became “fascinated” with the day-to-day business and work taking place on the airport’s expansion.

Speaking of his time as a baggage handler, he said: “From seeing the expansion at the airport, that got me more interested in the civil engineering side of things rather than the plane itself and the actual airport rather than the aircraft.”

He added: “When I was working at Luton, the airport was constantly busy and when I used to work there you would see thousands of people going to the airport every day and that constant business and lively environment and is what I liked.”

As part of his apprenticeship, the 22-year-old assists on designs in the aviation team at Luton Airport as it gears up for expansion. 

Luton Council’s airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) wants to expand the airport’s capacity to 32M passengers per year from its current capacity18M passengers per year.

Although it has yet to submit a devlopment consent order application, LLAL published its preferred option for expansion last month. This  involves construction of a new second terminal to the north of Luton Airport’s runway.

“Luton Airport is planning to submit a development consent order to expand the airport by an additional 14M passengers a year. I am currently working on the airfield design side of things in terms of the pavement designs, fuel farm designs and other stuff as well,” Hassan explained.

“Because I sit in the airfield team, we liaise with the architects who are designing the terminals,” he added.

In November, Aecom combinened its graduate and apprentice development programmes. The move means that all new recruits in 2019 will follow early career development programmes.

Explaining the decision to combine the programmes, Aecom UK & Ireland chief executive David Barwell said: “By combining our graduate and apprenticeship programmes we want to show that apprenticeships are valued equally with full-time education as a route to achieving a bachelor’s degree and chartered status.

”To attract and retain the best talent, we recognise that we need to offer our apprentices much more than competence training, providing opportunities for development in a much wider range of business skills.”

He added: “In 2019, we’ll be recruiting new apprentices across our UK and Ireland business, with a focus on in-demand disciplines such as civil engineering and transport planning.”

At present, Aecom has 338 apprentices in the UK and Ireland, and plans to recruit at least 75 more in 2019.

Last month, firms including Mace, Balfour Beatty and Ferrovial also signed up to a plan drawn up by Heathrow Airport’s operator to deliver 10,000 apprenticeships by 2030 as it prepares to expand.

The shared apprenticeship scheme is one of a series of commitments made by the airport in response to a report from the Heathrow Skills Taskforce, an independent committee set up to hold the airport to account on the promises it makes as part of its expansion plan.

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