1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My job title is Civil Engineering Apprentice, this involves moving around the business on placements of around 3-6 months learning about what the different departments do and involving myself in their work. The first year consisted of learning basic engineering principals in the workshop which was specifically built for the apprentice unit who will oversee your training. I also attended college one day a week for two years to get my BTEC Level 3 in Construction and the Built Environment (Civil Engineering), I am now being sponsored by the company to attend university in September to get a degree in my field.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I've developed my communication and team work skills, more than I originally thought I would, through interactions with people I didn't know and had never met before. The company is very big and often on my placements I've had to travel across the network to meet with experts to get information I require. I have also developed my independent working skills; on my placements I've been given small but meaningful projects to complete that will help me to complete my NVQ Level 3 in Engineering Technical Support that makes up the rest of my qualifications to verify my apprenticeship.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I really enjoy my apprenticeship, I was very nervous when I first joined because it was my first job and I finished sixth form and came straight on to this scheme so I had no idea how it was going to be and how I would get on with it. However, the apprentice support team are excellent, they're really down to earth people who understand that we all make mistakes and we all need help sometimes and the placement managers have been very supportive of courses and volunteering placements to improve my 'soft' skills. I was nervous about going on placements because I was worried that none of the established engineers or track personnel would have time to answer all of the questions I had because they had their own work to do, but they took time to listen and answer my questions as well as they could and involve me in any projects they thought might interest me.
4. How valued do you feel by Transport for London?
I feel very appreciated, especially as I often give up my own time to volunteer at schools and events to talk with young people about apprenticeships and engineering in general. I often get told by my apprentice scheme advisor and placement managers when I've been doing a good job and I'm also told by people external to the team I'm working with that the work I have done has been impressive and it really does help to encourage me.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I think that there are some changes being made to the programme and it is constantly evolving to keep up with the ever changing industry/business needs. So I think that all in all it is organised pretty well, I did have a few issues where I finished my workshop training early and so everything else in my program had to be juggled around a bit. But honestly that was sorted quickly and efficiently and I was soon on my first placement and have had no issues since.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I often have review meetings and these include ensuring that I'm receiving the right amount of support, any issues can be discussed with the apprentice scheme advisers or the rest of the apprentice unit support team.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
There has been a great deal of support from my employer from being able to enjoy company benefits such as 75% off travel in to London and a free to use oyster card to being given a company iPad to allow me to access the NVQ portfolio system easier. There has also been amazing support for getting me sponsored to go to university to continue my learning and to start me on the road to charter-ship.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Compared to the apprentice salaries local to me, I don't actually live in London but about an hours train ride away, this scheme offers an excellent salary and even better benefits package and employee discount system. There is also the option for a pension as soon as you join and I joined a benevolent fund for £4 a month that helps me with my prescription and osteopathic treatment costs.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Early on in my apprenticeship I became involved in the many volunteering opportunities available to me, with support from the scheme. I am now a STEM Ambassador, a London Underground Engineering Ambassador, a University of Greenwich University Technical College Ambassador and have started my training to become a Transport For London Ambassador to help when strike action occurs; among other things. All of these roles help me to feel valued and allow me to develop my 'soft' skills such as the ability to present to groups of people and to interact with strangers, all of which will help me lots later on in my career.
9. Would you recommend Transport for London to a friend?
I already have recommended TFL to many people I know, not just the apprenticeship scheme but also the graduate scheme because I know a few graduates here and they absolutely love their schemes and I know that they would receive the best training they could get and amazing company benefits and salary to go with it.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Transport for London?
I can't stress how important volunteering can be, even if it is just one day a week in a charity shop, this will show to any employer that you are willing to go out of your way to do something that isn't necessarily required of you. You will show teamwork skills, the ability to manage time and the ability to interact well with the public. All of these skills will help you to stand out against the crowd, every year the apprentice team receive more and more applications and you need to make yourself more interesting and employable than everyone else. So, don't just go to school/college and do your courses, you need to do something unique and out of the ordinary to catch their eye! They're looking for the best, so don't get stuck with the rest!
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