National Apprenticeship Week 2023: The true value of developing skills for life on the job

The Solomons Europe MSc Apprenticeship Plus Programme is both tough and faced paced. It includes a two-year MSc Quantity Surveying course, which if successfully navigated, leads to a further nine months of training and, subject to hitting targets, a shot at MRICS End Point Assessment and review. It holds the tantalising prospect of RICS Chartership in under three years.

In addition to a variety of in-house skills development workshops, the programme is also supplemented with relevant and varied on-the-job assignments. All six of our apprentices have been placed with a client to secure practical experience and open their eyes to the kind of work they will be doing as a qualified Quantity Surveyor. They all report to a Solomons Director and are mentored and buddied by colleagues in their regional teams.

In this blog, we catch up with the apprentices to learn more about what they are doing and how it is supporting their studies – and vice versa – as they build up a solid bank of skills for life.

Cumbria based apprentice George Duxbury is learning his craft by supporting a client on a major defence project under an NEC3® form of contract. The experience is not only building the geography graduate’s skills and experience, but also his resilience.

“On the job experience gives the visual and hands on experience that cannot be taught through course material. A major part of my client role is contract administration and quantification and costing. The course has given me a head start in some areas and has really helped me to solidify and iron out any rough edges. It’s been extremely rewarding to be given responsibility and trust as an integral part of the client commercial team. Needing to hit the ground running with limited knowledge has been a steep learning curve and demanded a strong and resilient mentality. Being pushed outside my comfort zone has definitely built up my confidence and ability to tackle obstacles both inside and outside work."

Law graduate Rachel McSharry had her sights set on a career on teaching before joining our apprentice programme. For her, the best part of doing an apprenticeship is being able to apply theory learned into practice while supporting another client in the nuclear sector.

“The apprenticeship has helped me develop my confidence by letting me practice theoretical skills in the real word, as well as massively improving my organisation and time management skills. It’s very satisfying that the modules I’m studying relate directly to the work I am doing with my client, where I focus mainly on contract practice and administration. It felt like I had a head start when it came to writing my assignments for this module. Of course, my day-to-day work provides me with a wider range of experiences that simply can’t be covered in theory, but at the same time it’s been hugely beneficial to get an academic understanding of some of the things I do. Importantly, I also feel the skills I have gained during my degree have been refined in my daily work.”

Jack Riley’s work on NEC3® contract for various packages of work for a client in the nuclear sector is both challenging and varied. A fully integrated member of our growing and dynamic Cumbria team, he’s gaining excellent exposure to the role of a Quantity Surveyor.

“Working and learning on the job has been a fantastic way to learn and develop skills alongside practical knowledge. Being able to learn skills through lectures and then implement them within the workplace allows for the consolidation of skills and learning in a short amount of time.”

Ryan Pringle is currently working on two projects – a soon-to-be-revealed development from Solomons Europe and a major tunnelling project taking place in Yorkshire and the North East. It’s a far cry from his previous careers as a professional cricketer and mortgage advisor, but Ryan is growing in confidence thanks to being part of a project team.

“The on-the-job experience thus far has provided not only a practical setting to develop but the chance to do so as part of a project team. Having the opportunity to work alongside senior Solomons Quantity Surveyors in my client role has been invaluable, from both an academic and practical perspective. As a multifaceted role, dealing with a wide range of disciplines, I feel the on-the-job experience has provided a confidence within the role as a Quantity Surveyor and as part of a project team.”

North West team member and keen runner Cameron Field is being put through his paces working for a client on a major nuclear programme. The experience he’s gaining is proving extremely valuable to his studies.

“I’m just a few weeks into working with a new client on a new project. I’ve been able to enhance my breadth of experience to support my APC competency development and apply elements of the theoretical knowledge gained through my UCEM studies in a practical context. While this benefit of the on-the-job experience is central to the apprenticeship model, it should go without saying that the soft skills developed in the workplace may be applied to any facet of life and are an invaluable aspect of the whole experience."

Former data analyst Carl Wright is working with a multi-disciplinary highways maintenance provider on bespoke and NEC3® forms of contract. This client experience is truly helping him to develop skills for life – and greater things!

“I’m finding on-the-job experience highly valuable and enjoyable. On the one hand, it allows me to put theory into practice. On the other I’m developing additional knowledge and skills – including interpersonal (soft) skills – while working with a client as an Assistant Quantity Surveyor that are different to those I’m learning in the classroom. It’s the best of both worlds. Developing skills for life is really important and this apprenticeship is giving me a much more rounded technical and practical experience than I would get through study only.”

Click here to learn more about our apprentices and their journey.

And click here to discover more about where we work and projects we’re supporting.

Posts and articles are published here solely for informational purposes. The content contained therein may be brief and is intended to offer general guidance that may be of interest. The information provided is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for any professional advice, consultation or service.

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