Tideway is marking National Apprenticeship Week by reiterating its commitment to create up to 400 apprenticeships during the build of London’s new super sewer.
Currently 49 of Tideway’s 1,700-strong workforce ae apprentices but with the team expected to grow to 4,000 over the next 12 months the number of apprentices is soon set to rise too.
Tideway expects one in every 50 members of staff to be an apprentice by this time next year. In addition, the organisation has committed to 25% of staff coming from the boroughs where the work sites are located.
“With the UK predicted to need 182,000 new engineers by 2022, the skills gap in the engineering and construction industry is clear,” said Tideway head of skills and employment Scott Young.
“We aim to help address this issue by inspiring and training the next generation of engineers, supervisors, operatives, and river workers, for both current and future projects.
“Along with our contractors, we offer a number of apprenticeship opportunities across a range of functions including business, civil engineering, the trades, surveying, and as marine operatives. This year we will start to recruit project management apprentices.
“We’ve made good progress with 49 apprentices currently employed, 92% of whom are on advanced or higher level apprentices, and with 87 apprenticeship opportunities offered to date.”
The apprenticeship experience
Taking on a role as a site engineer at Tideway has been key in terms of experience for graduate apprentice Ray Cantwell.
Cantwell is on the verge of becoming a qualified civil engineer, and works within one of Tideway’s project management team. He is in his third year of a civil engineering degree at Kingston University and is set to graduate in mid-2019.
“At the age of 16 I finished school with no idea what I wanted to do,” said Cantwell. “I spent the summer looking at my options and started to look at what other skills I had. I realised I was good at maths and sciences.
“I went to a career show and told them what I was interested in and asked what I should go for and that’s where I first found out about civil engineering. I’m a bit more practical and initially I didn’t know that meant I could be out working on a site.”
While balancing study and full-time work, he said being able to apply what he learns at university in a practical way keeps him motivated, which is one of the core benefits of taking up an apprenticeship.
Cantwell is sponsored throughout, meaning he is reimbursed an agreed percentage of his study costs if he meets his grades, another great benefit of an apprenticeship.
“I’ve basically eliminated concerns about debt,” he said. “By the time I’m done, I’ll be a fully qualified engineer with eight or nine years’ experience which is unheard of at my age. It’s the ideal situation.
“Some people are still paying their student loan off when they’re 50, the fact that I’m not going to have that is huge.”