The gap between leaving school and having a successful career as a civil engineer took a step closer to being bridged last year when South Thames College in London started its innovative technician apprenticeship.
And the initiative is expanding, with five further education centres joining the programme for the new autumn term.
The first round of apprentices excelled themselves, averaging a higher level of fee-earning work than their graduate trainee peers.
Eight apprentices joined the scheme, which was set up by six consultants - Mott McDonald, Arup, Hyder. WSP, Halcrow and Capita Symonds. The idea was to address the need for non-graduates to be able to achieve a formal qualification and to increase the number of technician engineers. A tender was set up for the programme, which South Thames College won.
Trainees completing the two to three year training programme are awarded an Advanced Technician Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering. They can then go on to become technician members of the ICE and gain a route to chartered engineer status.
The course was so successful that it scooped the Mayor of London’s Responsible Procurement Skills and Employment Award last December. This recognises the employer-led nature of the education the course provided.
“The initiative is a particularly strong example of collaboration and how companies can “grow their own” via technician apprenticeships, particularly those linked to professional membership with progression routes from technician to chartered status,” said Engineering Council chief executive Jon Prichard.
The consortium is further branching out with a building services technician programme with the Charted Institute of Building Service Engineers.