National Apprenticeship Week – celebrating our Apprentice Forum

Antony Clewes - Area Manager & HS2 Project Manager

Antony Clewes – once an apprentice himself and now a Senior Engineer, Area Manager and proud mentor of our Waterman Aspen apprentices – set up our Apprentice Forum in 2021. Here’s how it’s going and some advice for anyone embarking on an apprenticeship themselves.

The Apprentice Forum was set up to allow apprentices from across the company, not only to network, but to learn about aspects of Civil Engineering which they may not yet have had exposure to, at such an early stage in their career. I finished my own apprenticeship in 2021 and wanted to start a forum that allowed apprentices to share knowledge and have a strong support network while they completed their studies. 

The forum is in its third year of running and has been a huge success. We set up two meetings each year with a jam-packed agenda and fit these meetings around term time and the different academic calendars. We usually have at least four speakers who cover a variety of topics so that the apprentices can take in as much as possible. Apprentices can also use this platform to run through their End Point Assessment (EPA) and practice their presentations, which is a great way to gather feedback and overcome any nerves. In between the meetings, apprentices at Waterman Aspen get a dedicated mentor and ongoing support with their studies and work placements. 

We’ve had some fantastic guest speakers, many of whom I know from my own professional network. My old academic supervisor, William Lyons, delivered a presentation and has worked all over the world with the US Army Corps of Engineers, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and now runs his own company in civil engineering and transportation. He ran through his career, the cultural differences and clashes he’d experienced, and career advice for the apprentices. 

Another notable guest speaker was Martin Griffin, a multi award-winning EDI champion and geotechnical engineering expert who ran through how some urban developments are not built aptly for the visually impaired and the considerations engineers need to make to ensure spaces are inclusive. 

To anyone considering an apprenticeship in Civil Engineering, or anyone who is currently embarking on one, my advice would be to grasp any opportunity that arises, even if you think you can’t do it. When I first started, I never thought that within six years, I would be a Senior Engineer. Accept what you can’t do (yet), and what you don’t have much experience in, and absorb as much as you can.” 


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