Early years’ technical education has transformed in recent years with greater choice with apprenticeships, traineeships, graduate development programs and other opportunities. Our business and the world need innovators and problem solvers who aren’t afraid to reframe the challenge and think differently to help create and deliver the right solutions. Apprenticeships can provide some of the much-needed core and practical skills that will shape and create a generation of leaders that can solve for the future – design thinkers, innovators, collaborators, communicators.
During England’s National Apprenticeship Week, we go behind the scenes to meet and celebrate some of #OurJacobs apprentices working across our business supporting a variety of projects, major programs and even our research and development facilities. In the U.K., we’re currently training more than 200 apprentices across diverse areas such as environmental, ecology, design, project management and engineering roles and from Level 3 to 7 (advanced, which is equivalent to two passes at A-Level, through to degree apprenticeships). Our apprentices work on live projects within multi-disciplinary project teams, so they build a whole range of relevant technical skills and knowledge they need to establish a rewarding career with us.
Mechanical Design Apprentice Max Ison is based in Jacobs’ Birchwood Park, Warrington center, the U.K.’s largest independent complex of nuclear research, development and testing facilities and laboratories. He explains why he chose his apprenticeship: “I wanted to do a very hands-on and technical job, so it made the most sense to go into some form of training where I would be able to apply my new skills as I learn them.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do mechanical or design engineering so when I saw an apprenticeship offering both, I felt that was the best next step for me. I’m now able to apply my knowledge and skills in a way that I previously couldn’t. I’ve learned how to weld recently and I’m currently designing a machine to pull heavy items from the delivery bay into the welding and fabrication area.
“I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone who prefers a hands-on approach to learning,” adds Max.
Keen to become a project controller eventually, Project Controls Apprentice Annabella Sweeney in our Westlakes Science Park, Cumbria office, chose her apprenticeship to learn valuable skills that will help her perform better in the workplace.
“I’ve been given the chance to take control of and look after two projects to make sure everything is updated on a monthly basis. It’s very interesting and not something I have done before so it has been good to learn new skills,” says Annabella.
“I really enjoy being a part of the Jacobs team – I’ve been made to feel so welcome and there’s support all around me. Initially, I was shy to speak up, but everyone has made me feel very welcome, so I’m able to ask for help and get valuable, skilled advice from people around me,” adds Annabella.
Based in the same office in Cumbria, Project Controls Apprentice Jess Hanley agrees: “I enjoy being part of Jacobs – everyone is friendly and caring and has made sure that I’m okay since the beginning of my apprenticeship. I’ve felt really welcome here and am excited to continue my future with Jacobs.”
Birmingham-based Civil Engineering Degree Apprentice Daisy Carter was keen to follow in her dad’s footsteps of a successful career as a marine and mechanical engineer, travelling the world working on fascinating projects. At sixth form, Daisy decided she wanted to start earning and learning in a professional environment as soon as possible, so chose the apprenticeship route.
“Learning on the job gives you applicable knowledge for university, so writing assignments and exams naturally comes easier with more writing experience gained at work,” Daisy explains. “I love to learn how things work. Civil engineering essentially requires you to harness all your scientific, communication, I.T., mathematical and engineering skills to solve problems. It’s also great to contribute towards improving the developing world in a sustainable way.”
“In a typical week, I split my time between projects for highways, including stopped vehicle detection, and High Speed 2,” continues Daisy. “In the project management team, I tend to look at budgets, delivery and quality processes, while in the rail design team I carry out 3D-modeling of the drainage and pipe networks that surround railway tracks and ventilation shafts. One day a week I attend university to complete my BEng degree which I will finish in May this year.”
“Jacobs prides itself on providing agile careers and this is something that I’ve taken full advantage of. Since joining in 2017, I’ve rotated around various teams such as: Highways, Drainage, Environment, Land Access, Historic Environment, Structures, Commercial, Project Management and Rail. I’m lucky to have had fantastic line managers who have motivated me every step of the way and been fully invested in making me a well-rounded engineer,” says Daisy.
“You have everything to gain by undertaking an apprenticeship. Many students that I talk to worry about missing out on the ‘university experience’, but you still get your weekends off to join your friends and have fun – with the bonus of a salary to enjoy. An apprenticeship sets you up for a great career and global companies like Jacobs have endless opportunities.
“My proudest career moment so far was being shortlisted for Female Apprentice of the Year Award in the Women in Rail Awards 2021. Currently, I am the Chapter Lead for the Jacobs Women’s Network in Birmingham, which works to drive gender equality and challenge the norms. As part of this, I’ve organized various events locally for International Women’s Day, Women in Engineering Day and Men’s Health Month. I’m also a STEAM Ambassador and have enjoyed collaborating with various schools, colleges and universities over the years to inspire the next generation of engineers.
“There are so many opportunities to enhance your career and gain advice from senior people via career conversations or mentoring. Hearing about the challenges and successes that leaders have had along the way is a great way to evaluate your own career plan,” concludes Daisy.
Project Controls Apprentice William Arnold also works at our Birchwood Park center, where Jacobs provides capability including remote handling, cybersecurity, inspection technology, test rig facilities and more.
“Throughout my week, I complete tasks such as project cost reports, helping colleagues with various projects, as well as completing my college work and additional Jacobs’ training courses,” says Will. “I really like meeting new people from different parts of the business and learning more about what Jacobs does as it’s such a big company, working in many different areas.”
Highly motivated to succeed, Will has been learning how to weld, complete basic electrical skills, and about fitting. Will gets involved in the business in other ways too.
“In the office, I also work on the awards panel for a monthly employee awards scheme that recognizes people for showing outstanding commitment, inside or outside of work. I help to collate the nominations ready for the judging. It’s a great way to learn more about the achievements of our employees and the business,” explains Will.
Glasgow-based Geotechnical Graduate Apprentice Jenna Gibb chose geotechnical engineering as she enjoys physics, mathematics and geology: “From a young age I’ve always been passionate about the environment and had a keenness to be outdoors, so when I explored different engineering disciplines in my third year of high school, Geotechnical jumped out at me.”
“Although I knew I wanted to become an engineer, I wasn’t sure about the best route. Trying to decide between going for a job or going to university was extremely difficult as both have beneficial qualities and provide different sets of skills. For me, effectively it came down to the decision to start building professional work experience sooner or embark on a full-time degree,” she says.
Doing some work experience while at school can be very valuable. Jenna’s work experience at a local engineering company enabled her to work with different engineers and hear about the experiences and achievements of one of their degree apprentices.
“With apprenticeships, you have the chance to study and work at the same time,” adds Jenna. “Learning, not only academically but also in the workplace – witnessing, firsthand, how functions operate in practice. I’m learning new information every day, at work and at university, which I can apply to my project tasks, and I’m seeing my knowledge expand with every project I work on. Comparing my abilities now to when I started is a huge motivator and inspires me in my apprenticeship.”
Jenna also enjoys getting involved in other activities at Jacobs like the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program: “I recently took part in the ‘Jacobs 5-Day Workshop’, which involved reaching out to high school and secondary school students to help educate and excite them about the multiple routes to becoming an engineer, including apprenticeships. Meeting with some 60 students, we shared our experiences as apprentices, and our advice for those hoping to pursue a similar career,” explains Jenna.
Civil Engineering Degree Apprentice Nargiz Kamalova (pictured at top), based in London, decided to study an apprenticeship after her sixth form teacher explained apprenticeships and the benefits of studying and working simultaneously. Nargiz decided to join an apprenticeship scheme rather than attending full time University after realizing she preferred learning by being able to apply her academic knowledge straight into practical situations. Nargiz is now studying part-time to obtain her BEng (Hons) Civil and Infrastructure Engineering degree, while getting valuable on-the-job training – having worked on Tideway initially and now on secondment with the Thames Estuary Asset Management (TEAM2100) program.
“My current role includes carrying out site inspections, reviewing construction documents, monitoring construction progress, liaising with contractors and sub-contractors and more,” explains Nargiz.
“One of my proudest moments in my career was representing the Thames Tideway Tunnel project on BBC Breakfast Live and being interviewed alongside Tideway’s COO. I also appeared on an episode of BBC Newsround to educate students on the new ‘Super Sewer’ in London. My most recent achievement is being chosen for the QUEST Technician Scholarship by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).”
“I’m currently a STEAM Ambassador and an Industrial Cadets Mentor as well being a member of Jacobs’ U.K. Apprentice group. I regularly volunteer at schools, careers fairs and host work experience students. I’m also a student member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and enjoy attending online lectures and seminars to learn from professionals in the industry.
“Choosing to study an apprenticeship is the best decision I’ve made, and I highly recommend it to anyone considering it. I would advise doing lots of research and even reaching out to anyone currently studying an apprenticeship for advice. Gaining work experience, volunteering, and doing extra-curricular activities all are highly advantageous things to have on your resume to demonstrate proactivity and skills outside of academics,” advises Nargiz.
Bonnie Lewis and Milly Chapman are undertaking the new environment practitioner degree apprenticeship, which is aimed at creating innovative young thinkers that can work with our clients across industries to help combat the environmental changes the world is facing.
Like our other apprentices, they are learning about the most up-to-date regulations, software and trends at their training provider and bring this back into Jacobs and the projects they are working on.
Bonnie explains: “This apprenticeship was the most obvious choice for me when I think about my passion and interest in topics such as biodiversity, ecology, sustainability and climate change. I really wanted to make a positive impact with my job!
“As it’s new, I’m in the first cohort and this makes it especially interesting as everyone is learning at the same time and I can help shape the apprenticeship for future colleagues. The apprenticeship is challenging in different ways: I am juggling a lot of work and university commitments and deadlines.
“I know there is so much potential for myself to work in roles that are focused on climate change and helping combat the changes the world is facing,” continues Bonnie.
“On a day-to-day basis there can be a lot of variety in my role, no week looks the same unless we are on a big project that requires our support for a length of time. Typically, I will have a couple of site visits per month, and these can include noise, air quality, habitat, bat, arboricultural, or culture heritage site visits, or even STEAM visits to schools!
“I also do desk-based research on the impacts of projects on the environment, and I have worked on projects ranging from rooftop farming to highways schemes to energy projects abroad. I also have time allocated for learning on the job. Jacobs hosts a lot of activities throughout the year where I can network, learn more about areas of the business, gain more understanding about high profile projects and meet some really interesting people,” concludes Bonnie.
Milly agrees that no two days are the same: “One day I’ll be out on site to do some habitat surveys for an ecology project in Suffolk, the next I will be working with the sustainability team to work on innovative solutions to make our company eco-friendlier.
“This degree apprenticeship has honestly changed my life and allowed so many opportunities that otherwise I wouldn’t have had. As well as promoting incredible personal growth in me as an individual, it allows me to contribute to the bigger picture.
“And, on a more forward-facing perspective, now is the time to get involved in the STEAM industry, the technology is rapidly advancing, and the sector needs those who have a love and a want to innovate. So please if anyone is considering one, I say go for it,” encourages Milly.
We’re always looking for dynamic and engaged people to join our team. Bring your passion, your ingenuity and your vision. Let’s see the impact we can create, together. Discover more about early careers opportunities on jacobs.com.