For Paul McCormick, Managing Director of Transportation, UK & Ireland and Continental Europe at AECOM believes from his experience as an apprentice as well as his experience as a business leader that apprenticeships offer a unique opportunity to foster skills and prepare individuals for a long career in the industry.
Continuing ACE Group and TAC's celebration of apprentices during National Apprenticeship Week, we asked Paul to reflect upon how his apprenticeship impacted his career path, and his views on apprentices today.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
I wanted to combine on-the-job learning and study, while getting a real insight into the engineering profession at an early stage in my career – and all while also earning a wage.
How would you describe your time and learning as an apprentice?
While learning at college equipped me with the required technical skills, the on-the-job training was perhaps even more important – it really gave me the opportunity to develop and flourish as an engineering professional.
What was your favourite aspect of your apprenticeship?
My favourite aspect of my apprenticeship was having the opportunity to work with a number of inspiring and excellent people, some of whom I still stay in touch with and still lean on for support. While working as an apprentice, I tried to learn from their best traits and have continued to do this with great leaders throughout my career, taking “snippets” of their skills into my persona.
How do you feel your apprenticeship prepared you for a future career?
Being in a workplace from a young age and having the opportunity to help out on real-life projects made me feel very grown up and certainly prepared me for the future. At 21 years old I was managing construction projects on site with just four years’ experience but often leading people twice my age. Having taken the apprenticeship route, I already had several years’ experience by the time I was chartered too, which really benefited and fast-tracked my career in my 30s.
As a business, what do you see as the benefits of taking on an apprentice?
The benefits we get from our apprentices are enormous – they are eager to learn and integrate well with more experienced team members. In return we’re able to offer them a long-term career path and exciting opportunities to work on some of the UK’s most important infrastructure schemes.
As a business, what tips would you have for businesses contemplating taking on an apprentice?
Taking the time to train, develop and mentor apprentices is key. The quality of the on-the-job training is vital. This requires time and commitment on the employer’s part to deliver, but the whole business – as well as the apprentices themselves – will reap the benefits.
As a business, do you feel apprenticeships are an effective way to cultivate skills?
Apprenticeships are an extremely effective way to cultivate skills and build the future workforce. The ‘earn while you learn’ approach enables apprentices to play a meaningful role on projects from very early on in their careers. As a business, we believe apprentices are crucial to delivering the UK’s ambitious pipeline of infrastructure projects.
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