Lee Hatwell breaks down the myths of apprenticeships in the construction industry

Apprenticeships are such practical and rewarding way for students to learn and embrace the transition between education and the workplace. With so many different sector and qualification options available, it can be a great alternative to traditional pathways.

However, despite their rise in popularity over the past few years, many people still hold certain beliefs and misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships. This is particularly true in industries such as construction where they first grew popular. This can be quite problematic for the industry, where apprenticeships have long been a large proportion of the recruitment and training of skilled workers.

However, the businesses within the sector are working hard to change this view and show that apprenticeships are no longer an undesired alternative, they’re something many people work towards in order to secure a well-respected qualification.

One company that is doing particularly well to tackle these assumptions is Munday + Cramer. They are a leading surveying and architectural practice, with over 30 years of experience and are currently mentoring three-degree apprentices through their courses. One of their apprentices, Georgia Dear is a prime example of how the company are de-bunking the myths and showing apprenticeships really are a great way to enter the industry.

Georgia has been working with Munday + Cramer for the past four years. Starting off as a receptionist, the company saw her potential and wanted to excel her career path through their apprenticeship programme. She is now enrolled in the BSc Hons Building Surveying apprenticeship and is two years from becoming fully qualified.

‘Construction is only for men’
Of course, the construction industry has historically been a predominantly male workforce. In fact, women only account for around 14 per cent of people employed by the sector. However, the numbers are on the up and views on gender specific roles are changing. One of the industry’s leading recruitment sites has released stats showing a higher percentage of women are entering the industry at a higher level. In fact, nearly 40 per cent of entrants coming from higher education, such as apprenticeships, are females.

M+C’s Georgia, explains this was a preconception she had going into the industry. However, she was proven otherwise after seeing how many women were employed in the sector. Georgia herself is now contributing the rising percentage of women choosing a career and more specifically, an apprenticeship, in construction.

‘The qualification isn’t as good as a degree’
The debate between university education and the apprenticeship route is one that always crops up. Many people think that apprenticeship qualifications are not as highly regarded as those from university. However, apprenticeships have been challenging this for a while now, especially in the construction industry. There are a lot of options for degree level apprenticeships, offering the same qualification but combined with earning and learning on the job.

For example, at the end of her first four years, Georgia will be awarded a BSc Hons in Building Surveying and after her final year completing her APC, will be recognised by RICS as a chartered surveyor.

‘You don’t actually get to do the job’
Often people think that apprentices just shadow other employees and don’t actually get to experience the job themselves. However, this is far from the truth. Apprentices are immersed into the job and are expected to take on responsibility as they learn on the job.

One of the biggest demands from employers in today’s workplace is experience. Apprentices have a huge advantage with this in mind as not only do they offer a qualification but give apprentices experience in every aspect of the business. Georgia explains that in her instance, although she has chosen the surveying pathway, a lot of her experience has been in project management and other areas in the business. This helps people work in the field and gain a perspective on the whole 17process, which is a huge benefit to employers.

‘You don’t get any support’
Another preconception that many people hold is that apprentices don’t get the support they need throughout the process. As they are in the workplace, it can be easy for people to think they are left to their own devices and their learning isn’t aided. However, being in the workplace and around other professionals means there is always a great amount of support for people learning.

In Georgia’s case, she explained she goes into university a couple of times a week, where she gets support from lecturers and specific days to concentrate on the education side of things. Within the workplace, she also has a structured meeting with one of Munday + Cramer’s directors every three months, to make sure she is on track and is happy with her progress. This is alongside the day to day support the company provide.

The apprenticeship pathway is definitely opening up opportunities for so many young people, helping them enter the workplace whilst both earning and learning. Munday + Cramer hope to continue giving people access to this pathway and work towards diminishing even more misconceptions to show how rewarding apprenticeships can be.

Lee Hatwell is a director at Munday + Cramer. Munday + Cramer offers a comprehensive range of multi-disciplinary solutions to meet all needs, with over 30 years of experience in delivering a range of professional services within the built environment. It excels in a range of services, from conceptual architectural design, procurement and project management through to day-to-day facilities and property management and beyond.
For more information, please see http://mcessex.co.uk