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Building a professional skill-set in Peterborough

Construction apprentice Ciara wearing a high-vis jacket

Ciara joined ARU Peterborough to study for a degree apprenticeship in construction, which combines university learning with on-the-job training. Named University of the Year at the Social Mobility Awards 2023, ARU Peterborough was established to widen participation in higher education and develop the skills that regional employers need.

Here's Ciara's story.

Returning to education

Supported by Burmor Construction, an established contractor and developer in Peterborough, Ciara has embraced all aspects of her apprenticeship. Having been out of education for a number of years, she's enjoying the opportunity to develop her academic writing and research skills.

During university studies she's demonstrated a desire to gain knowledge and appreciates that a thorough understanding of construction topics will help her to develop in her career.

Representing other students

At ARU there are many opportunities to get involved and represent students' views, whether you're a 'traditional' university student or a work-based learner. Ciara was Course Representative for the academic year 2022–23, making sure that the views of the whole cohort were taken into account, discussing any issues with the course leader, and negotiating any resolutions on behalf of the group.

Embracing innovation

As an industry, construction is moving and changing all the time, and Ciara shows a genuine interest in innovation and new developments. At Burmor Construction she works on two major projects – one of which recently earned a spot as a finalist in two awards for Social Housing Project of the Year.

Inspiring change in the industry

Ciara recently participated in a panel discussion where she recounted her journey as an apprentice, embodying inclusivity in the field. Ciara stands as an advocate for gender diversity in construction, and supports the steps that the industry is taking for change.

Burmor actively encourages its staff to engage with professional membership organisations and so, in 2023, Ciara co-hosted a booth at the Women of the World festival in London, standing side by side with the current president of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). Their shared aim was to inspire more women to join the industry. Ciara has also taken on a leadership role, heading Tomorrow’s Leaders in the Cambridge Region, a community of professionals who are trailblazers for the next generation of talent. Ciara ensures they receive the support and resources they need to thrive.

Burmor recently hosted a day of activities with IntoUniversity, a Peterborough-based project funded by ARU. This featured two site visits and an afternoon of construction-oriented activities for 30 children. Ciara played a role in organising and orchestrating the day's events. It was a moment of pride for her as the group toured the Trelowen Way site, where her significant contributions and hard work are apparent.

Flourishing as part of a team

Ciara's enthusiasm extends well beyond her project responsibilities, as she stands as a compassionate team member at Burmor; and supports the firm's charitable initiatives, helping to organise a football tournament and raffle which raised over £3,000.

Ollie Crofts, Ciara’s workplace mentor, says:

"Since Ciara has joined, [she's shown] an ability to pick things up naturally. She is very hardworking and her aptitude to work is observed daily. Ciara is ahead of her expected results, and Burmor are very pleased that she is further forward than anticipated.

"Burmor take great pride in witnessing her integration into a team where her talents find purpose and she is flourishing, and we look forward to seeing what comes next for her as she embarks on a series of new projects."