There’s been a sizable increase in UK civil engineering-related apprenticeships of late, providing a solid alternative in accessing the profession. It is, after all, no secret that there’s a skills gap in this sector, and attracting a new intake of industry specialists is a challenge. It’s an ongoing problem, which has driven the UK government to target 3 million apprenticeship starts over the next twelve months. This very welcome focus has also brought about apprenticeship reform, ultimately resulting in the unveiling of several measures designed to increase quality.

Thanks to this steady increase, the sheer number and type of civil engineering apprenticeships has meant they are now a widely accepted alternative path into this highly skilled profession. It also brings hope of plugging the shortfall in skills.

Although differences exists across UK apprenticeships scheme in this field, essentially they all require the candidate to undergo 20% off-the-job training (with an external training provider) and 80% workplace training. This mix of training means that apprentice can apply their learning, work with experienced engineers and share their ideas right from the beginning. They will also benefit from free ICE student membership plus of course all the advantages that come with being a part of the worldwide civil engineering community.

Assessing the new intake

The new English Trailblazer apprenticeships now have a requirement for an ‘end-point assessment’ which ensures consistency and quality. It will test the skills, behaviours and knowledge of the apprentice, acquired over the course of the apprenticeship. ICE offers end-point assessment for three diploma-level and two degree apprenticeships, giving rise to a professional qualification at ‘EngTech’ or ‘IEng’ membership of ICE respectively. ICE also works with universities and employers in developing improved apprenticeship standards. In Wales, ICE forms part of the Welsh Apprenticeship Alliance, which supports apprentices starting out on their training by planning how best to gain their professional qualification through ICE. It also continues to support Northern Ireland’s Work+ apprenticeship programme.

In Scotland, ICE is collaborating with universities on developing new graduate apprentice civil engineering schemes whilst continuing their support of apprentices undertaking existing programmes up and down the country.

New terminology

Right from the start, an apprentice’s initial professional development (IPD) will run in parallel to their formal training, with new terminology having been introduced. ICE is working to address this by adapting existing tools, including the IPD Online evidence recording system. It has also introduced new resources to make the transition into professional life smoother.

Finally, ICE is keen to help its mentors focus on ‘behaviours, skills and knowledge’ rather than the more typical attributes associated with a civil engineer’s competency. It is also working with training providers to coach them on the requirements of professional qualifications. We expect to see further initiatives unveiled going forward.

How Darian can help

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