Diverse paths lead to a career for AECOM apprentice

AECOMIt’s never too late to follow your dream of becoming an engineer, says Amy Pymont, Civil Engineering Apprentice, Transportation-AECOM

With engineering playing a significant role in the UK’s economic and societal well-being, it is important the industry works together to encourage and engage the younger generation to come on board and be part of creating a legacy for their communities. However, for many years, the UK engineering industry has faced great difficulty in attracting young students to pursue a career in STEM-related subjects.

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Whilst the engineering industry has faced several barriers in recruiting new talent, apprenticeships have also been a struggle to fill for many businesses. Due to the number of misconceptions and the lack of information available, many people are often led to believe that apprenticeships are not classified as a ‘proper qualification’ and therefore miss out on various opportunities without knowing the benefits.

During school, I often thought about pursuing a career in architecture but never understood how to enter the sector and so I put the idea to the back of my mind. After finishing my GCSE’s, I went on to study Geography, History, Chemistry and Level 3 Mathematical Studies for my A-Levels and even decided to apply to study Geography at university. The idea of becoming an architect was still far from reality, especially with the subjects I had chosen. It wasn’t until AECOM came to my school as part of our careers fair that I started to believe that entering the world of architecture was still possible.

Until that day, I never fully appreciated how broad the construction sector was and how many different routes into the sector were available. With several industries and businesses facing a skills gap, it is vital they make the time to visit schools across the country to help attract young students by sharing their personal experiences. Not only does this make it more engaging for students, but it’s more authentic coming from the people who work in the field themselves. It is also a great opportunity for students to ask questions and network. A few of AECOM’s current apprentices also attended the careers fair which put students at ease when asking questions as they were in a similar position not long ago.

In addition, having listened to their journey, I realised that it doesn’t matter which route you take. Just because you don’t follow the ‘conventional’ route, your options shouldn’t be limited, the same way that the subjects you choose at school shouldn’t limit your career.

Whilst it is also my responsibility to do my own research, I do believe there is a responsibility on schools and businesses to encourage more people to consider a career in STEM-related subjects and find a suitable route for them. Although my school has always been supportive, ultimately, they are my teachers. It is unlikely that they have any personal experience in this sector, so they are unable to advise what each industry entails along with their advantages and the disadvantages.

Soon after AECOM visited, I decided to approach them about doing some work experience. After just one week, I knew this was what I wanted to do so I applied for an apprenticeship with AECOM. It was the best decision I made. I’ve been given opportunities that I never thought I’d have. Completing this apprenticeship has enabled me to explore all aspects of the construction and engineering industry – there’s no limit to my learning.

Having experienced this journey, I feel as though I now have a responsibility to ensure people hear my story and understand it’s never too late to follow your dreams. I am now a STEM ambassador and visit local schools with my peers to ensure they understand the benefits of taking this path. Not only do I get the chance to work with a variety of people across all levels and disciplines, but I’m also given the chance to make a difference to communities across the country.

Amy Pymont, Civil Engineering Apprentice, Transportation-AECOM