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University of the West of Scotland’s Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) in Civil Engineering is enabling an ambitious female to pursue a career in this exciting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field.

Kirsty Smith is benefiting from studying the UWS GA in Civil Engineering along with a full-time post as Technical Officer / Engineer at Ayrshire Roads Alliance (ARA).

By combining academic learning with real-time practical experience in the workplace, the University’s GA programmes deliver industry-relevant skills and qualifications. GAs are developed in partnership with employers to ensure that the learning is relevant to industry and that apprentices can apply their learning in the workplace immediately.

The GA in Civil Engineering at UWS enables apprentices to earn a BEng Honours degree designed by industry while in full-time paid employment. Apprentices are awarded academic credit for gaining industry relevant skills and experience putting their learning into professional practice straight away.

A GA in Civil Engineering at UWS provides a broad knowledge of core Civil Engineering subject areas including structural, geotechnical, water engineering, materials and hydraulics. It also equips apprentices with graduate attributes such as teamwork, critical thinking and creativity. Additionally, it provides a knowledge of the latest trends in the application of digital technologies in construction such as laser scanning and thermography, Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), sustainable development, and occupational health, safety, and well-being.

Kirsty Smith  - female standing outside

Kirsty Smith, 23, who has been working within the Design and Environment section of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance for over five years, said: “I choose to study the UWS Civil Engineering GA as throughout my life I have always had an interest in STEM subjects. Civil Engineering has many different aspects which makes it a very interesting industry to work in as every project you work on is different. Civil Engineering is often seen as a ‘man’s job’ but more and more females are coming into the industry each year.

“I had previously completed my HND which allowed me entry into second year on the UWS BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering GA course. Working full-time whilst studying a degree requires a lot of commitment but the work-based learning aspect of the degree, which counts towards one third of your degree, makes it easier as the things you are already doing at work count directly towards your final grade.

“Being on the GA course has already helped my career progression as I was recently promoted from a Technician to an Engineer after only doing the degree for five months. The course links directly to my day- to-day work and the knowledge I am gaining at university is allowing me to take on more complex and challenging projects at work.

“I would recommend GAs to anyone; the mix of worked based and classroom learning is perfect. The subjects you cover at university are applied straight away in the workplace whilst still fresh in your mind. Whilst completing a GA you are a full-time employee which means you are also earning a full-time salary.”

Being on the GA course has already helped my career progression as I was recently promoted from a Technician to an Engineer after only doing the degree for five months. The course links directly to my day- to-day work and the knowledge I am gaining at university is allowing me to take on more complex and challenging projects at work
Kirsty Smith

UWS is working in partnership with Skills Development Scotland to deliver its GA programmes, which have been developed in response to demand from industry. With three out of four employers in Scotland reporting critical skill shortages that are affecting their productivity and growth, added to the fact that more than 70% of Scottish employers think that job applicants lack technical, practical or job specific skills, GAs have never been more important.

Alan Ierland, Design & Environment Team Manager – Ayrshire Roads Alliance, said: “The mixture of in-house work-based development and day release academic learning has been beneficial to both Kirsty and the Council. She has developed into a very capable young engineer able to apply her academic learning in the workplace and is now a key member of the ARA Design Section with involvement in all aspects of the management of the Council’s bridge stock.

“East Ayrshire Council, like many others, has recognised that there is a need to retain staff with relevant qualifications and expertise and also plan for succession planning. ‘Growing our own talent in-house’ aided by the Graduate Apprenticeship programme is one such way we can endeavour to make sure that qualified staff are available to take the Ayrshire Roads Alliance forward in the future.”

The mixture of in-house work-based development and day release academic learning has been beneficial to both Kirsty and the Council. She has developed into a very capable young engineer able to apply her academic learning in the workplace and is now a key member of the ARA Design Section with involvement in all aspects of the management of the Council’s bridge stock
Alan Ierland

The Graduate Apprenticeships offer a chance for apprentices to work with leading employers whilst studying for an Honours Degree at UWS. This GA in Civil Engineering is a Work Based Learning degree which is mostly delivered in the workplace, ensuring that the content is aligned to industry needs. Typically students spend one day per week at UWS, with the work and learning they do in their workplace   making a significant contribution towards their degree.

To find out more about the BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering Graduate Apprenticeship click here  or email apprenticeships@uws.ac.uk

Last updated: 16/04/2020