Changing Perceptions of apprenticeships

July 2019

Changing Perceptions: 1st Horizon challenges the lingering misconceptions of apprenticeships

Many are convinced by the view apprenticeships are merely a social inclusion route for the young or the underprivileged and associate basic skills training. Subsequently, the word ‘apprenticeship’ continues to be derided with the opportunities being regarded as nothing more than cheap labour. Opinions about apprenticeships continue to be debated but deciding what an apprenticeship should provide could be easily reconciled. So, how can an apprenticeship be considered, and be designed to function as, the route towards a rewarding career path?

1st horizon

Two apprentices operating a 3D laser scanner.

Designing apprenticeships for the future

To consider and structure apprenticeships as an impactful career choice, each programme should be planned, designed and marketed as another path into employment rather than an alternative for those unable to attend university. This will then convey how this path offers a direct route and ensures candidates gain invaluable experience; practice and knowledge in a real-world setting is particularly covetable when compared to the influx of graduates without such experience.

To distinguish and elevate apprenticeships, all programmes should be planned with individual progress in mind before relating an individual within the overall progress of a company. The structure should allow, even be purpose-built, for how each apprentice shall be more adept at certain aspects of the role and require focused tutoring and close attention on other aspects. Fundamentally, employers must design programmes to invest in the development, and ultimately the employability, of their candidates with the view to introducing the apprentices into their workforce. Rather than a temporary training placement, the standard practice regarding employment and advancement of each apprentice should be based upon merit.

The 3D Digital Surveyor Apprenticeship

A group site briefing.

As established, apprenticeships should be created in accordance with the prospect of a future position for each apprentice. In view of this agenda, 1ST HORIZON eagerly invests in individual staff development and training with determination and excellence being sought after and eagerly promoted. The opportunities on offer are designed to truly invest in the candidates and endorse career progression; currently, over 25% of the operative staff joined 1ST HORIZON from the apprenticeship route.

The desired basis of a tailored programme is another component that 1ST HORIZON incorporates into their apprenticeship scheme. Candidates receive intensive and bespoke training to personally encourage and develop individuals from induction to programme completion. Hence, the 3D Digital Surveyor Apprenticeship aims to create accomplished surveyors, each with their own unique set of skills and specialisms. All apprentices will be involved in the 3D data capture, data processing and resultant CAD/BIM modelling of the sites during the scheme; the apprenticeship will act as the bedrock for a career in an array of different positions such as 3D Surveyor, 3D CAD Technician, or BIM Technician.

Apprenticeships as effective options

Examining and processing data with the input of an experienced surveyor.

During an apprenticeship, theory is not simply taught and understood. Principles are also applied each day and comprehended in the envisioned settings and scenarios. Tangible results and skills are one of the many advantages to this form of teaching and training, as information is being utilised and demonstrably benefits many people: from the apprentice to the company to the clients, even to the industry.

The notion of an apprenticeship as a positive option should become pervasive. Today, the paths young people are being steered towards are often expensive and vulnerable to automation. From educators to employers, vocational training, technical training and apprenticeships should be promoted rather than solely university. There is no one path to suit all, but if a chosen career and skill set can begin and be applied earlier, all whilst earning, then an apprenticeship is an opportunity one should not overlook.

Comparison to the university route

An apprentice recording measurements with a total station.

The traditional academic route remains the upheld choice. Favouring this route regardless of the comparisons to other options, to the preferences of the individual, and without consideration of the abundance of graduates year upon year, can surely not be characterised as a shrewd, well-informed decision. With regards to apprenticeships, becoming experienced in one sector can easily be considered a detrimental choice yet a role or sector specific programme can still be applied to other sectors. Also, apprenticeships involve not only practical experience but act as qualification led pathways into roles. Whereas, university degrees are considered prestigious qualifications gleaned on a privileged path to employment, however they do not offer in-depth experience to fully accompany those qualifications. Therefore, it may be said that the apprenticeship route supersedes the university led route into the same position.

Waning offerings from traditional academia for the geomatics sector, and an arduous effort for educational institutions to maintain appropriate and current content delivery, has been a key incentive for the apprenticeship programme at 1ST HORIZON. Another incentive stemmed from the fact that at the same age, one individual will have gained extensive onsite experience, personal training in both the practice and theory of the different modes of surveying and will then be competent at the data processing aspects of the role. So, why wait when you can get ahead, progress sooner and become a senior surveyor before those who take the steps to pursue a degree?

1ST HORIZON’s HR manager, Sophia Massarella, adds: “It’s important for us to introduce a more diverse workforce to the 1ST HORIZON team and raise awareness of the opportunities within the surveying industry amongst future generations.” Hence, apprenticeships are not only beneficial to the candidates but to the workforce as a whole; all staff actively contribute to a groundwork for individual growth and development whilst supporting one another. This forms part of the long-term aspirations for 1ST HORIZON: “Little by little, we hope to eradicate any misconceptions about apprenticeships, and to raise awareness of them as a viable and fulfilling career path.”

For more information about the apprenticeship opportunities being offered at 1ST HORIZON, follow the link for the job listing on the website careers page >>

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