Ryan Meacham joined Highways England as a Civil Engineering Apprentice Technician. Here’s his story, in his own words.
What inspired you to become an apprentice?
After six years in the retail sector, working from an entry level position up to a warehouse supervisor role, I decided to seek further opportunities in the construction industry. After discussions with friends and family, an apprenticeship route seemed to be the most relevant way to develop skills in a new industry and still earn a wage.
Being at the higher end of the apprenticeship age range of 16-24, Highways England were one of only three companies willing to give me an opportunity. The Civil Engineering Technician apprenticeship provided by Highways England appealed the most.
How long is your apprenticeship?
The apprenticeship is based on a three-year framework, but it can be completed earlier or developed to meet both work-based learning objectives and career opportunities.
What does it involve?
Initially the apprenticeship consists of a three-year framework, with one year spent in each directorate. The aim of the apprenticeship is to complete the BTEC Level 3 Civil Engineering in Construction and the Built Environment diploma, alongside the work based Level 3 Technician in Civil Engineering NVQ.
My first year was in Operations and Maintenance. Both my mentor and line manager established key learning objectives that I should work towards, in line with the NVQ framework.
I oversaw the development of 13 pump station renewals and scheme compensation events. As a Highways England representative, I attended academic events to promote civil engineering. Then, after completing the first year of academic study, I received a Distinction* in my BTEC.
In year two I moved onto a six-month secondment with Aggregate Industries to develop my understanding of on-site Civil Engineering. I've been involved with a number of scheme activities including quality assurance for road formation and fencing arrangements, recording built levels and overseeing environmental monitoring aspects of the Cannington bypass. The experience has been invaluable and contributed to the progression of my NVQ framework.
How are you finding your apprenticeship?
You can get involved with a variety of Highways Engineering activities, while developing your own skills. It's a challenge to balance both work and academic responsibilities, as the BTEC course requires a number of hours of personal study each week. But the support I've received from very knowledgeable members of the team makes every bit of effort worthwhile.
Would you recommend it to others?
The flexibility and the support I've experienced so far have been exceptional. There are a whole host of opportunities available within the company and, thanks to the flexible approach of the scheme and the future plans for the company, the extent of your career progression is entirely in your hands.