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Civil Engineer Kirsty inspires apprentices to find the road to success

#ScotAppWeek24 Apprenticeships

High achiever Kirsty Smith is using the experience of her own successful career path through apprenticeships to inspire the next generation of female engineers. 

Kirsty has achieved an impressive array of qualifications since joining Ayrshire Roads Alliance (ARA) as an Apprentice Civil Engineering Technician 10 years ago – and is passionate about encouraging others to do the same. 

She progressed from a Modern Apprenticeship on to a Graduate Apprenticeship, earning a First-class Honours degree, and is the first female Design Team Lead appointed at ARA, responsible for managing the council’s bridge stock. 

Kirsty Smith 1

Committed to workforce development

She has already achieved Technician Engineer (Eng Tech) accreditation with the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), is working towards becoming an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) – and ultimately a Chartered Engineer. 

Alongside her professional success, Kirsty is committed to workforce development and currently mentors three apprentices within the Design Team – two Graduate Apprentices and a Modern Apprentice. 

Last year she helped five colleagues successfully join the Graduate Apprenticeship programme at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), supporting them through the application process and liaising with UWS. 

She said: “It means so much to know that I could be inspiring the next generation of women to pursue careers in civil engineering because I didn’t have that when I was at school – that’s why I’m really passionate about it. 

“It’s so rewarding to support other apprentices on their journey and see them succeed. 

“Doing a Graduate Apprenticeship, or a Modern Apprenticeship, is a no brainer - you’re doing the work anyway, so it’s worth putting a bit more effort in and getting a qualification as well.” 

'A fantastic mentor'

Kirsty, 27, has taken part in a wide variety of initiatives and activities on top of her own work and academic studies, sharing her learning journey through UWS virtual events, and promoting apprenticeships to staff and employers. 

She featured as a UWS ‘Inspiring Student’ and supports outreach activities – visiting local schools to promote the sector as a positive career choice for young people. 

Kirsty’s commitment to championing apprenticeships has led to her being a finalist in the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards within the Apprentice Ambassador of the Year category sponsored by Arnold Clark. 

Graduate Apprenticeships are a way to get qualified up to Masters degree level while in paid employment. 

Designed by education and employers, Graduate Apprenticeships are offered in key sectors that need highly skilled employees. 

University of the West of Scotland Industry Engagement Manager Fiona Kennedy said: “Kirsty was an exemplary student and a very committed STEM ambassador who is passionate about encouraging girls to consider careers in engineering. 

“She is a fantastic mentor to the apprentices she currently has on her team.” 

Ayrshire Roads Alliance Head of Roads Kevin Braidwood said: “Kirsty is a model employee, very proactive about promoting apprenticeships and careers in civil engineering. 

“Bringing apprentices into the business is an excellent way of training staff to meet our business needs, and we move them around different teams in the business to build up their skills and experience so that they can tackle a range of jobs.” 

Find out more

The winner of the Apprentice Ambassador of the Year category sponsored by Arnold Clark will be revealed during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which takes place from 4 to 8 March.

Opens in a new window Go to the awards website