Meet the Apprentices...

Riccardo Barra


Age 18
Company Mott Macdonald
Apprenticeship Programme
Civil Advanced Technician Apprenticeship

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Being able to assist engineers on real projects in the U.K. which will affect and hopefully improve people’s lives. In addition, working in teams toward a common goal can be particularly rewarding. 

What project(s) are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m working full-time on a Thameslink Gauging study for the new Class 700 trains which they would like to roll-out on all Thameslink routes. However, before they can do so their gauge or clearances to other trains and objects either side of the railway must be checked to ensure there are no collisions.

What does a typical day at work involve?
Most work days involve helping the engineers with any tasks that need to be completed, communicating with these engineers to understand what actions need to be prioritised for that day, and assisting with various tasks such as using specific gauging software to analysing graphs, spreadsheets and cab-videos.

What do you see as the biggest challenges in your job?
Some of the biggest challenges, are managing and organising your time. These involve being organised so every hour of your day is used to the full, as well as being able to effectively record the time you spend on various tasks and projects. Furthermore, trying to keep learning about your job and what those around you are doing while completing your own work, can be a challenge at times.

What made you choose to do an Advanced Technician Apprenticeship?
I didn’t really want to attend university or other forms of higher education, and the Advanced Technician Apprenticeship programme is ideal for those who are willing to learn practical skills for that specific type of work, in the workplace instead of at an educational institution.

What are the benefits?
The benefits are that I have improved my communication and teamwork skills, and I’m gaining a huge amount of experience and knowledge every day from those around me. This is useful knowledge as it regards precisely the sort of understanding I need to work as a future Technician in a Civil Engineering firm.

What are your future plans?
My future plans, are to hopefully pass my EdExcel Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Civil Engineering for Technicians, and then when more senior staff see fit, I would like to eventually apply for Engineering Technician (EngTech) status with the ICE, and become a permanent member of a Civil Engineering firm.

What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I enjoy watching and partaking in sport, as well as cooking and trying to play the piano as well.

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