A Glimpse into the Solomons Europe MSc Apprenticeship
In 2021, we enrolled our first cohort of Apprentice on the UCEM MSc Quantity Surveying Apprenticeship Programme, which is more than just a learning experience; it's a challenging and transformative journey that combines rigorous academic study with real-world application.
This intensive program comprises a fully paid period of post graduate level training and development, which spans two years of post graduate distance learning, supported by enabling ‘on the job training’ and followed by nine months of intensive practical skills application - culminating in the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) to achieve Membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
For those who rise to the occasion, the prospect of becoming a Chartered Quantity Surveyor in under three years is in reach, but by no means easy!
As a team, we knew that to support this challenging journey, our commitment to comprehensive skill development was critical to help embed academic elements, and create a newly qualified team who could effectively support our clients on their projects. This meant we could not rely on academic training alone, and so do this we created a range of in-house workshops, designed to help consolidate the apprentices academic learning in practice, which was in turn, complemented by diverse on-the-job assignments.
Each of our five apprentices has been mentored and supported by our people and performance team, and professional colleagues which has also seen them strategically placed on client projects, which have provided invaluable practical experience and insights into the dynamic world of a qualified Quantity Surveyor.
This has without doubt been a full team effort, and throughout their journey, our apprentices have been supported at every level by others in the business, happy to #payitforward and share their own knowledge and skills with the next gen.
So, as we celebrate National Apprentice Week 2024, we are delighted to catch up with our apprentices, sharing the remarkable progress they've made, and reflecting on the part our regional teams have played in helping them get to where they are now.
The first cohort, comprising Ryan Pringle, Carl Wright, and Cameron Field, completed their MSc in Quantity Surveying last summer, earning promotions to Intermediate Quantity Surveyors. They are now ‘in-flight’ on their journey to Chartership. The second cohort, George Duxbury and Rachel McSharry, are currently eagerly awaiting their MSc results after submitting their final assignments.
This is the story so far, from our apprentices:
Navigating the Nuclear Sector
George, a Cumbria-based apprentice, shares his experience working on a major defence project and supporting a client in the Nuclear sector on NEC3® based projects. He reflects on the importance of a strong integrated team for project success and efficiency, emphasizing the balance required to manage work, assignments, and personal life.
‘I have just completed two years working for Solomons Europe as an Assistant QS. I have worked with two major nuclear organisations in the North West in this time and have learnt a lot about the Quantity Surveying Role. The apprenticeship has taught me that a strong integrated team is imperative to producing good project outcomes and efficient delivery. My last MSc assignment has just been handed in, which is a huge relief and now I can focus on my chartership. The past few years have been challenging as I have had to manage my time as efficiently as possible to balance my work, assignments and personal life. Now I am pushing towards my chartership goal!’
From Law to Quantity Surveying
For Rachel, a law graduate with initial aspirations to be a teacher, the apprenticeship has been transformative. The ability to apply theoretical skills in the real world has boosted her confidence and improved organisational and time management skills. Rachel finds satisfaction in the direct application of her academic studies to her work in contract practice and administration, providing her with a valuable head start in her assignments.
“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.”
A Varied and Rewarding Role
Ryan, a former professional cricketer and mortgage advisor, is now on his fourth client role, working on a large claim for an international client. He praises the apprenticeship for providing a rewarding mix of exciting projects, structured academic study, and mentorship that has boosted his confidence and skills.
“Completing an MSc via an apprenticeship route has proven to be a hugely rewarding decision in my career. Having no Quantity Surveying experience prior to joining Solomons, the apprenticeship has allowed me to work on a mixture of exciting projects whilst completing structured academic study and MSc qualification. I am extremely grateful for the support provided by Solomons and have been lucky enough to work with some brilliant Quantity Surveyors who have made every effort to guide me through challenging periods, their support allowed me to develop the confidence and skills required to be successful. I’m now looking forward to continuing my development and the challenges ahead, in what is a varied and rewarding role.”
Running Towards Success
Cameron, a keen runner in the North West team, is gaining valuable experience working on a major nuclear program. He finds the apprenticeship highly rewarding, emphasizing the opportunity to engage in client work alongside studies, which deepens his understanding of theoretical concepts and prepares him for a successful future career.
“I have found the MSc QS apprenticeship to be a highly rewarding experience. Above all, the opportunity to engage in client work alongside my studies, offered the unique opportunity for me to continually consolidate my theoretical learnings in a practical environment and has ultimately supported a deeper level of understanding, that I now carry with me into my future career. I’d thoroughly recommend the MSc apprenticeship route to anyone considering a fast-track route into the quantity surveying profession.”
UCEM Apprentice of the Year 2023
Former data analyst Carl, named the 2023 UCEM Apprentice of the Year, is thriving as an Intermediate Quantity Surveyor. Working with a multi-disciplinary highways maintenance provider on bespoke and NEC3® forms of contract, Carl values the on-the-job experience, for its contribution to both practical and technical skills. He appreciates Solomons and the apprenticeship's role in providing a well-rounded experience that goes beyond the confines of traditional study.
“Overall, I have been very happy with the apprenticeship with UCEM and Solomons. I have found the off-the-job learning combined with the real-world experience very valuable, which I feel has accelerated my learning as a QS compared to studying the MSc degree only. Solomons and UCEM have been excellent throughout, providing continued support and encouragement, and additional learning/training, which helped me get through the apprenticeship. I am enjoying Quantity Surveying and I am glad I made the decision to change career to this profession in the built environment. I have not looked back.”
At Solomons Europe, we take pride in supporting the growth and success of our apprentices. Their personal and individual journeys exemplify the effectiveness of our MSc Apprenticeship Programme in shaping well-rounded, skilled professionals, who are ready to make a significant impact in the field of Quantity Surveying. Our next phase is to ensure that our first cohort are successful in the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence, and we are committed to giving full support to this rigorous professional evaluation process. We will be proud to complete the journey with them, and hope to share their success later this year.