Chartered status in six years with new degree apprenticeships

Earn a degree, a professional qualification, without student debt and while getting paid – that is the offer now available to school leavers looking for a career in construction thanks to the launch of new Trailblazer higher and degree level apprenticeships in five disciplines.

Balfour Beatty is leading the construction Trailblazer Employers’ Consortium which have developed the courses and qualifications, working with BAM Construct, Carillion, Galliford Try, Lend Lease and Willmott Dixon.

“We view degree apprenticeships as an entirely complementary part of our applied curriculum and as a significant professional route for our current and future students” - Southampton Solent vice chancellor (academic) Jane Longmore.

“We will be starting at least 35 people on the course this year at Balfour Beatty and overall there should be at least 80 Trailblazer apprentices on the consortium’s books,” said Balfour Beatty emerging talent development manager Tony Ellender. “We are also looking at switching some of our part time HNC and degree students into the new system,” he said.

 “It’s small beginnings but we are expecting the scheme to grow rapidly as people see it as an alternative route to professional qualification.”

The new higher and degree apprenticeship standards mark an increasingly professional approach to apprenticeships, enabling entrants to the industry to move more quickly into management roles where a further skills shortage is emerging.  They will be offered in civil engineering, construction management, building services engineering, design co-ordination and quantity surveying, he explained.

New entrants will gain an HNC and Associate or Technician professional status in three years, followed by a full honours degree and Incorporated or Chartered status in a further three years (providing they pass their professional examinations).  It takes seven years to achieve chartered status via a traditional university degree plus work experience route.

The new higher and degree apprenticeships start in September and were developed with the support of the Chartered Institute of Building, Institution of Civil Engineers, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers and Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists.

Southampton Solent University is one of the universities which Balfour Beatty has partnered with to deliver the Higher and Degree Apprenticeships scheme.  “We have been actively committed to the apprenticeship agenda for the last five years, developing higher and degree apprenticeships across our portfolio in close partnership with local and national employers,” said deputy vice chancellor (academic) Jane Longmore. “We view degree apprenticeships as an entirely complementary part of our applied curriculum and as a significant professional route for our current and future students.”

In a big week for apprenticeships at Balfour Beatty, the company also announced it was creating 150 new opportunities in the business, adding to the 350 apprentices already employed.

And it is going to “encourage” its 7000 strong supply chain to sign up to the 5% club which commits to have 5% of each business’s workforce made up of either graduate or apprenticeship trainees.

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty’s group chief executive and founder of the 5% Club, said:  “The commitments we are making demonstrate the proactive role we are taking to provide sustainable career skills for this country’s youth, working with Government, universities and our supply chain partners to ensure that we attract young people into this growing infrastructure sector.”

Balfour Beatty signed up to the club in 2013. The contractor has five years to hit the 5% target and is currently on 3%.

The business is not insisting its supply chain join up but there will be a question in forthcoming prequalification documents asking if businesses are 5% club members.

“We are aiming to get 50 signed up this year, another 50 next year and then we will see it snowball,” said Ellender.

"The supply chain is vital if construction is to help more young people into employment, he explained. “The trade level jobs are all carried out by the supply chain, they need to be encouraged to do the training,” he said.

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