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Apprenticeships help Emma Rankin engineer her future

Work-based learning Apprenticeships Foundation apprenticeships Graduate apprenticeships

Engineer, Emma Rankin has discovered the benefits of apprenticeships, after taking one at school opened doors to another in her dream job working towards a degree qualification.

Emma, from Glasgow, had initially planned to go to university but learned through taking a Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering that she could continue to follow her chosen career path through apprenticeships.

After completing her Foundation Apprenticeship the 18 year old landed a Civil Engineering Graduate Apprenticeship with infrastructure firm AECOM through University of Strathclyde.

Setting the foundations for an Engineering career

Emma chose to take a Foundation Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 6 in sixth year alongside other subjects after finding out about the option to take one at a subject choices event at her school, Bannerman High. The qualification is at the same level of learning as a Scottish Higher. Emma spoke to her employability teacher at school who assisted her with the application process and her personal statement.

When asked what made her choose a Foundation Apprenticeship, Emma said: “I already had the exam results I needed to get into university, so I thought a Foundation Apprenticeship would be a great way to see if I liked Civil Engineering, while also giving me invaluable work experience I could use for my CV.

“I also realised civil engineering affects all aspects of life and is a really important industry to get involved in, as civil engineers are responsible for roads, buildings, drainage, and everything else that really makes modern society.”

Emma Rankin Photo

Emma’s Foundation Apprenticeship involved attending Glasgow Kelvin College twice a week and taking a work placement with BAM Construction.

At BAM Construction, Emma worked alongside the site engineer carrying out surveying tasks including using lasers to measure distances and mark out specific heights that would be used for construction.

Emma explained: “The work placement with BAM Construction was my favourite aspect of the Foundation Apprenticeship. Honestly, I loved it! I was getting to go out and see what it’s like in the real working world and getting into the action was amazing!”

Passion for engineering

A passion for engineering runs in the family. Emma explained: “I always had an interest in how things worked and my dad was a panel beater, so I think that my interest probably stemmed from that too.

“I also loved Maths and Physics at school and my teacher recommended engineering as a good route for me to go down.”

Taking the Foundation Apprenticeship helped Emma put learning into perspective. She said: “The Foundation Apprenticeship was really useful because I could see the link between my Design classes at school and how the work was applied in the workplace.

 “It was good to see that a lot of the Maths I was getting taught in school would also be used in my future role.”

Emma says there are lots of benefits from taking a Foundation Apprenticeship while still at school. She says: “A Foundation Apprenticeship is a great steppingstone that opens a lot more opportunities beyond school.  My Foundation Apprenticeship benefited me so much as I grew in confidence, could see the real workplace, work in a team and get experience which was great for my CV.”

Choosing Graduate Apprenticeships over university

Emma found out about Graduate Apprenticeships during her time at BAM, as the contractor was working with apprentice employer and infrastructure engineering firm AECOM on a project.  

Emma explained: “Without this link I would not have gained work experience with AECOM which then led to me finding out about the company’s Graduate Apprenticeship opportunity. I was also able to use my Foundation Apprenticeship experience and qualification as an important aspect in the application.”

Emma said: “My Foundation Apprenticeship made me realise the advantages of taking a Graduate Apprenticeship rather than going to university. I could work towards my degree as well as having four years of work and experience under my belt, earning and learning at the same time.”

Having joined AECOM just over three months ago, Emma works in the Civil Infrastructure team and says she has lots of support on her Graduate Apprenticeship. She also attends the University of Strathclyde once a month to complete an Honours degree in Civil Engineering and is provided one day a week by AECOM to dedicate time to her studies.

Skills learned on her Graduate Apprenticeship

Emma said: “My job at AECOM varies, allowing me to work on projects from a 10,000 unit new town masterplan to a main flood attenuation scheme. I love working on interesting projects and there is always something new which keeps the job engaging, from flood defence, drainage design, earth works and more.

“Although it’s only been three months and is still early days, I still have gained a lot of software and engineering experience in such a short time frame.  I’ve also built a lot of knowledge and feel like I can communicate with other members of staff and understand what is happening. This has made me feel a lot more confident.”

As well as gaining more professional and personal skills through her apprenticeships, earning while learning has also helped Emma become more independent. She said: “My Graduate Apprenticeship has been great as earning a wage has allowed me to pay for car insurance and take my parents out for dinner.”

When asked where Emma sees herself in 10 years’ time she said: “I hope to be a Chartered Engineer, possibly within the same business, as there are lots of progression routes for me to take at AECOM.”

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