How does an apprenticeship work for construction professional?
The concept of an apprenticeship is much the same for professional courses (such as architecture and civil engineering) as it is for trade and craft apprenticeships. An apprenticeship, in essence, is a genuine job with an accompanying assessment and skills development programme.
Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their time (or more if extra support is required) on off the job training. The employer and training provider decide how the off the job training is delivered. For example through regular day release, block release, special training days or workshops. Off the job training can cover practical things such as shadowing, mentoring and industry visits as long as it is not part of their normal working duties. The training providers for professional/ higher level apprenticeships are typically universities.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education have, in conjunction with employers, the RIBA and the Architects Registration Board (ARB), approved and published the Standards (which set out the knowledge, skills, behaviours and entry requirements etc) for the Architectural Assistant (Degree) or Part 1 and Parts 2 and 3 Architect (degree).
The opportunity for businesses large and small
Employers are of any size are able to draw down a maximum of £21,000 in funding to support each student at university. And if you, like many architectural practices, are a small employer you can get extra help:
Employers with fewer than 50 people working for them will not have to pay the 5% contribution for an apprentice who is aged between:
16-18 years old
19-24 years old and who have previously been in care or who has an Education, Health and Care plan provided by their local authority
The government will pay 100% of the training costs for these individuals, up to the funding band maximum.
Practices such as Scott-Brownrigg, Arup, BDP, Ryder Architects and others are amongst a group of 20 UK practices who took part in the Trailblazer initiative to develop the standards and they are amongst the first organisations offering apprenticeships in the disciplines of architecture, civil engineering, surveying, construction management and architectural technology.
Not all higher-level apprenticeships are delivered in conjunction with a university, colleges may also be involved in the training component where HNC/HND or other qualifications can be achieved. For example, Ryder Architecture is a UK architectural practice with offices in Amsterdam, Vancouver and Hong Kong. The practice initiated the innovative initiative PlanBEE (Built Environment Education) .
PlanBEE is an industry-wide partnership which has worked with Gateshead College to develop a bespoke programme of training, both on and off the job. The programme offers an alternative to university for people considering a career in Architecture, Engineering and Construction.
It’s just beginning…
The framework, funding and infrastructure are all still all quite new having been launched just over a year ago.
We believe that professional apprenticeship has the potential to engage and support a new generation of practitioners from the widest talent pool. Most importantly it offers companies an opportunity to demonstrate their support for widening the diversity of the sector and helping students without access to substantial funds to complete their studies debt-free.
BBU would love to hear from organisations supporting apprenticeships and from apprentices themselves about how it’s working for you. Get in touch to share your story.