One-on-One Employer Series – Gareth Drought at Tony Gee & Partner

One-on-One Employer Series – Gareth Drought at Tony Gee & Partner

Around how many apprentices do you take on?
Our target apprentice intake for this year is around eight across the business.  Currently we have 14 at a variety of colleges.

What is their support or development structure at the organisation?

Working within design teams on highly technical projects, it is important that the apprentice is supported by a network of experienced Engineers and BIM Technicians.  All apprentices are assigned a mentor who can help with day to day queries but all apprentices are encouraged to interact with the wider team to further broaden their knowledge.  We have developed a career stream for Engineering Support which highlights the progress route through the business up to Director level.  

We acknowledge that the nature of these apprenticeships allows the apprentices to make a switch between both BIM Engineering Support roles and Engineering Design at any point in their career and our new structure demonstrates this.

What projects are apprentices working on?
We operate as Civil, Structural and Geotechnical consultants working in a variety of sectors.  The nature of our work is generally design and build type projects, leading to a wide variety of technically challenging projects for our apprentices to get involved in all areas of heavy civil engineering for transportation infrastructure projects.

What do you see as the benefits to taking on an apprentice? What is the importance of apprenticeships to the industry?

There are many benefits from taking on an apprentice.  The key benefit relates to our collective need to increase the Civil Engineering workforce across the industry.  There has historically been a reliance on university educated engineers, usually with a master’s degree to satisfy the institutions.  The numbers of undergraduates going forward will not meet the demands of the industry in the future and the ability to train school leavers as a different talent stream without the need for them to accrue significant debt is vital to the future of civil engineering. It is also increasingly the case that young engineers want to start working instead of following the traditional university route and an apprentice scheme enables that.

Another strength is that the industry is more able to reach out to a more diverse workforce particularly in relation to those from deprived areas where funding for university is not always a realistic option for them.

Another fundamental benefit is an ability to train from the very outset of their career, therefore moulding a technician or engineer into the methods of the company and ensuring a consistent approach to producing first rate work.

It is worth recognising that the apprentices are working towards professional accreditation. The framework has been developed in conjunction with the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers to ensure that both the academic and vocational training reaches the requirements of EngTech: a Technician Membership of the given institution.

Who do you target as potential apprentices?

School leavers with a penchant for maths and physics and a healthy appetite for civil engineering.

What tips do you have for an employer contemplating hosting apprentices?

Apprenticeships are here to stay and we should all ensure that our businesses can cater for that.  See this as another route towards professional qualifications, just as you would a graduate engineer for instance; they are with us to design and to be challenged.  See them as an integral part of the team.  Nurture their enthusiasm and ensure that they see a clear and equitable career path ahead.

In a consultancy setting it is important to ensure that the apprentice is applying their learned academic knowledge into the workplace.  It is also important, however to ensure that they are seeing construction in action to put their design work into context and to ensure the excitement of our industry is properly communicated.  Here at Tony Gee we include Apprentices on our annual student visits week which takes in construction sites across the UK.  Feedback from all cites this initiative as an important element of their training.