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The Business Magazine July 2024
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Choosing an apprenticeship to enter the built environment industry 

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Apprenticeships are the perfect combination of on-the-job training with classroom support, allowing the next generation of built environment professionals like me to develop practical skills while gaining theoretical knowledge and a recognised qualification, writes Annabel Huffer, Apprentice Building Surveyor at Eddisons. 

Having never had an interest in the traditional university experience, I was keen to explore alternative routes of entry available for professional careers in the built environment industry. 

I found there were many options available, including for those wishing to switch careers later in life, and chose a Degree Apprenticeship to enter the industry.  

I am currently in the final stage of a Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship in Building Surveying with the University College of Estate Management (UCEM). The fully online distance learning course allowed me to gain first class honours in BSc Building Surveying in April 2023, while working and gaining the experience needed to prepare for assessment with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to become a Chartered Surveyor. This is the end point of my apprenticeship; I am almost there now, just under five years on from when I started. 

UCEM are just one of the many universities at the forefront of apprenticeships, and  my course was designed specifically to accommodate the challenges encountered as a built environment apprentice and to provide support at every opportunity. Coupled with the support of my employer, Eddisons, the apprenticeship was the perfect choice for me and my career aspirations. 

The skills gap and lack of awareness from younger generations is a constant challenge in the industry, and apprenticeships and other schemes like it directly address these issues. The RICS reported that in the years 2013-2019, the number of young people aged 18-30 qualifying as Chartered or Associate Surveyors increased by 30%, which shows a positive outlook for the industry. Similarly, the number of female members of the RICS reached 18% in February 2022, compared with 13% in 2017.  

The built environment sector lends itself brilliantly to apprenticeships, as the approach covers a wide range of on-site trades and professional consultancy roles working under the guidance of experienced professionals. The range of disciplines and types of apprenticeships available mean there are options available to suit a diverse range of people.  

Apprenticeships can be categorised as Intermediate, Advanced, Higher and Degree. All apprentices must be provided time during paid working hours to study, and the combination of 20% classroom work and 80% work experience ensures sufficient learning and development of apprentices’ skillsets for the working world.  

Apprenticeships benefit from hands-on learning and  

give individuals a chance to apply the knowledge they’ve learned through study, to real-world situations.   

Apprentices are set on a structured pathway, acquiring a combination of technical expertise, professional competence, and industry connections. 

The training received in apprenticeships like mine is tailored to the needs of the construction industry, but also to equip people with the essential skills needed to progress in the working world.  

Apprentices are paid for their work and study as part of the apprenticeship, allowing them to earn an income while they learn. This opens opportunities to those who need to earn money straight out of compulsory education. Fully-funded training and qualifications is also a key consideration, meaning there is no student debt. 

Apprenticeships also provide opportunities for networking and building relationships within the industry. Working alongside experienced professionals and taking advantage of early careers networking opportunities available provides the chance to establish connections for a strong future career. The RICS Matrics groups are a perfect example of early careers networking for surveyors; as a committee member I have first-hand experience of the benefits the community provides.  

I have been encouraged by the support received from within the industry for my apprenticeship, and truly believe apprenticeships hold an important role in the future of the industry. Apprenticeships provide opportunities for everyone regardless of their background, which is key to ensuring a diverse built environment profession. 


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