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Opening doors in construction: how apprenticeships gave Roisin the opportunity of a lifetime


Faculty: Science and Engineering
School: Engineering and the Built Environment
Category: Degree apprenticeships

31 January 2024

Construction Management Degree Apprentice Roisin in hi viz and a hard hat on a building site

Roisin works for construction company Kier Group, and is working towards her Construction Site Management degree apprenticeship. Find out how her apprenticeship helped progress her career in construction to Assistant Design Manager, and why she believes with a degree level apprenticeship, the sky’s the limit!

What were you doing before your apprenticeship and why did you choose the apprenticeship route?

I was working as a project co-ordinator for a telecommunications company. When I read about the apprenticeship Kier were offering, I knew it was a fantastic opportunity.

Apprenticeships are made for individuals just like me, who fall into the category of people that slipped through the net when all their peers were going to university.

The apprenticeship allows for the apprentice to study, with no tuition fees, whilst earning a wage and learning on-and-off the job.

It’s difficult for me to highlight any negatives with the apprenticeship scheme because it has genuinely changed my life. It’s great to have an employer like Kier because they are so supportive and have the right tools to shape me to become the right person for the job.

When I first applied, I had a feeling it would be a good opportunity, but now I’m here, I realise that it has been the best decision I’ve ever made.

What opportunities has the apprenticeship given you in your job/career?

The opportunities are endless. Studying this course in Construction Site Management gives me the knowledge that I can go wherever I want to within the industry. We have directors with the same qualification.

With changes to the building safety act requesting certain levels of competency for my role, it would have been very difficult to achieve my job as Assistant Design Manager without this apprenticeship. This opportunity has opened doors for me that I could never have had without really struggling financially and emotionally.

I don’t plan to leave the design team any time soon (if ever) but if I did, there are many departments within construction that I could move on to. Even then, I could transfer to a department and get more training or even a top-up on my degree. Professionally, the apprenticeship opened many doors for me and personally, it has given me a lot of freedom.

How have you added value to your work and the wider team?

I think a huge part of my role is support. I have been able to help Design Managers when they've had several requests all at once. That’s valuable.

The information I pick up in lectures helps with my decision making at work. Having the knowledge to make decisions without asking questions or needing guidance is great for assisting Design Managers on projects, but also really helps with my confidence.

I will always go above and beyond in my work for Kier and the team because of the opportunities they have given me. So much of what I give back to Kier comes from a place of gratitude. Kier puts so much faith and resources in me, it really does help me to feel secure and happy in my role. I think that always brings out the best in a person.

What have you found most rewarding about the apprenticeship?

It’s great that university education is much more accessible to everyone, but for individuals that still can’t get there, apprenticeships are life changing and I realise every day the change this will have on the rest of my life. This accessibility to higher education is priceless.

How have the skills and knowledge you have gained from this course benefitted your career?

Much of my role is retaining knowledge and being able to understand consultants when they are speaking to me about their specific disciplines. Within the course, we learnt a lot about piling and civil engineering, fire hazards, health and safety, cash flow and legislation such as the Building Safety Act and how the changes will impact construction.

Conversations I’m having day-to-day that would have been jargon, now make sense. I’m engaging in meaningful conversations, understanding what’s being said and knowing what each consultant needs from me whilst articulating what I need from them.

How do you feel about your position as a woman in the construction field? Has the apprenticeship been helpful in this respect?

I feel like I’m making meaningful changes in small ways. Representation is important and when we visit schools and deliver talks about apprenticeships, there will be other women and girls that see a possibility of a career in construction as realistic, achievable and less intimidating because they see another woman delivering a message that these careers are just as much for women as they are for men, and it can change their perceptions.

Many, if not all, of the women that I have met in the construction industry have been intelligent, inspirational women that have pride in their work and bring imagination and creativity to the industry. I feel privileged to be a ‘woman in construction’, but I also feel ‘construction’ benefits from having each of us too.

The apprenticeship makes careers in construction more accessible to women because it provides a higher education route for those leaving school and college, but it also bridges the gap for women that otherwise find higher education inaccessible because of childcare arrangements. For me, it wasn’t possible to study, work and be a parent. This apprenticeship combines all three and provides the knowledge I need to build a meaningful career.

How have you found the support from ARU tutors?

I have found ARU tutors to be amazing. My course leader is heavily involved in the course and offers the same amount of support as my lecturer and my lecturer is quickly becoming a huge part of my journey! I know that I can always ask for help and receive a quick response, but also that he wants the best for each of the students.

I am glad that Kier put me on an apprenticeship with ARU and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

If you have been inspired by Roisin’s story, why not find out more about our Construction Site Manager Degree Apprenticeship and other degree apprenticeship courses?


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.