The 5% Club Case Study: Ruth Kennedy

As part of our series of The 5% Club Case Studies, our focus this week is on Ruth Kennedy, a one-time nuclear placement student at Atkins Global. Read on to learn more about Ruth’s experience on a placement programme…

The 5% Club apprenticeship case studyWhat did you enjoy most about your industrial placement?

I worked for Atkins for two months last summer, and I was impressed by the amount of responsibility I was given. My colleagues treated me like a contemporary despite the fact I’d only just completely my first year, and were welcoming and happy to explain anything I didn’t understand. It’s a young, friendly working environment and I had such a good time that I came back for a year placement with Atkins. I enjoy being given real projects to work on, and feeling like I’m making a useful contribution.

What advice would you give to a student looking for a placement?

I think doing placements is a useful way of figuring out what you would (and wouldn’t!) want to do after university. In a consultancy particularly, you have the chance to see something of lots of different types of projects, and it’s a useful way to gain experience. It’s worth really thinking about areas you’re interested in, areas you’d like to find out more about, and any areas you wouldn’t want to work in. Do research, talk to people and ensure that you’re enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the area you’re applying to.

View more case studies from The 5% Club here

The 5% Club Case Study: Will Sharpe

This week, The 5% Club Case Study focus is on Will Sharpe, a placement student at Atkins Global. Read about Will’s daily role below:

The 5% Club case studyName: Will Sharpe

Division: Oil and Gas

Location: Epsom

What advice would you give to a student looking for a placement?

I found it really useful to know as much about the placement before I applied. This helped me understand what the ‘Year in Industry’ would involve, and how suited it was to my interests and career aspirations.

I believe this came across rather well in my interview, as I had a clear understanding of the role I was applying for and I could convey a natural passion. However, with regards to the interview, I would also recommend researching the local area and the additional facilities that the site can offer.

I had lived in the North of England all of my life, and with three of my siblings recently moving down to London I felt the urge to see what all the fuss what about. The interviewers already knew my academic skills from my CV so I wanted to make it clear that there were a vast number of reasons why I wanted to join Atkins in Epsom. The location, the lifestyle and the social community!

How is Atkins helping you develop towards your future career?

The placement I applied for was in the Oil and Gas sector, which is split into two six-month placements within the department. The first six months I was working with the Process Simulation team followed by six months working with the Safety Analysis team.

This was very appealing to me as after a somewhat ambiguous three years studying Chemical Engineering I was still unclear of an area I wanted to concentrate on.

This way I obtain twice as much experience in various fields widening my breadth of knowledge towards possible future career paths.

On my first day at Atkins I was introduced to the online training system that they have in place. This amazed me instantly as there is a large catalogue of online tutorials and tests that can be completed at your own leisure. In particular the computer software courses – these will be useful skills to have throughout the whole of my career.

However, it is my colleagues around me that are proving the most helpful. Immediately I was made aware of the relaxed and social atmosphere at Atkins, where any questions you may have can be answered by a quick email, chat or phone call.

The 5% Club Case Study: Mohammed Rehman

This week’s case study focuses on apprentice technician Mohammed Rehman of Atkins. Mohammed joined Atkins as an apprentice technician in August 2013 after completing his A-Levels. Read on to learn more about Mohammed’s day to day role at Atkins…

Atkins case study Mohammed RehmanName: Mohammed Rehman

Role: Apprentice technician

Date Joined: August 2013

I may not have been with Atkins long, but I know I made the right choice to start my career here. I joined in August 2013 as an apprentice technician in the Birmingham office. Before that I had just completed my A-levels in maths, chemistry and biology. Trying to find your feet after A-levels these days is daunting; at first I didn’t know what path to choose – whether to go to university or to jump headfirst into a job. Then someone recommended that I consider apprenticeships, so I began to research the National Apprentice Scheme and found out about Atkins.

My apprenticeship scheme is for two years and I’m currently in the transportation drainage team within Land & Development. From day one it’s been hands-on; I’ve had a steady flow of both admin and project-based work on a range of projects, including East-West Rail, Cadley Hill and Wadi Al Buhair in Bahrain – all in just one month! It’s exciting to be working on real-life projects and learning in such a dynamic environment.

I’ve been mentored from my very first day by a colleague who’s done all he can to make sure I learn the ropes. With more new tasks to get stuck into every day, it’s been so reassuring to have someone on hand to offer advice, take me through the technical systems and help me build my skills base. My line manager has also set out year-one objectives with me so I have clear targets to strive for.

The hands-on nature of my apprenticeship is really stimulating, giving me the chance to apply my existing knowledge and learn on the job. I’m particularly enjoying developing my AutoCAD design skills on live projects. But I’m also able to support this with technical studies – I’m currently working four days a week and spending one day a week studying Level 3 Civil Engineering at Solihull College. It’s the best of both worlds and has allowed me to achieve more than I’d ever expected at the age of 19. Having been so torn between academic studies and the world of work, I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to combine the two. It’s a great experience – I couldn’t have made a better choice.

The 5% Club Case Study: George Rawlins

Our case-study focus this week is on George Rawlins, a higher apprentice in the Aerospace Division at Atkins. Find out more about his role below.

George Rawlins The 5% ClubLocation: Bristol

Division: Aerospace

I was one of the first people to join Atkins’ Aerospace division on the higher apprenticeship scheme. While working towards a foundation degree in mechanical engineering at the City of Bristol College, I am also working with colleagues on high profile projects for clients including Rolls-Royce and Airbus. My focus is on mechanical and design engineering across aerostructures and aero engines.

I was eager to get into the workplace and make my own way in the world, so the higher apprenticeship suits me as it will enable me to do this while I study. Due to the nature of work and the breadth of disciplines, Atkins was one of my top choices.

Government Announce New Generation of Apprenticeships

The 5% Club David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans yesterday to overhaul vocational schemes in the UK. Speaking at the Mini factory in Oxford, Cameron spoke of his intention to introduce year-long apprenticeships that will be graded on a three-point scale to put them on par with qualifications.

Speaking to 600 apprentices yesterday, Cameron said: “I said earlier this month that I want us to deal with the scourge of youth unemployment by giving young people more chances and choices in life. This goes to the heart of my vision for this country: backing hard working people who want to get on in life and making sure Britain competes and thrives in the global race.

“So I am really excited to be here today. What we’re announcing is going to make a massive difference to thousands of young people’s lives. It involves 2 things.

“One: we’re saying; if you want an apprenticeship, we’re going to make sure you do the best apprenticeship in the world. The reforms we’re announcing today will put employers in the driving seat and ensure that we deliver high quality training that supports you and our economy for years to come. And as the range of companies signed up today shows, these are apprenticeships in different industries and sectors meaning people have a real choice about the career they want and our economy is balanced.

“Two: we’re saying if you need help preparing for an apprenticeship or want to get straight into the world of work, we’ll help you too. We’ve been talking to some of the biggest companies in Britain, massive global brands where young people have a real opportunity to progress up the ladder, and they have said they want to offer 100,000 vocational training schemes for young people.”

Backing the new vocational training scheme are 60 companies, collectively known as Trailblazers. The firms pledging their support include Marks & Spencer, Tesco, National Grid, Barclays, BAE Systems and BT.

In total, 100,00 training places will be offered over the next two years.

David Tomkin, Chief Executive of The 5% Club founding member Atkins, said in response to Cameron’s speech: “There are some technically complex and time critical challenges which will need to be overcome in the years ahead, from population growth to climate change, and in many cases it will be down to the next generation to find and implement the solutions. It is vital that talented young people are given the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills which will allow them to deliver a better future for us all, and a commitment from businesses to invest in apprenticeship and graduate development programmes will play an important role in achieving this.”

Jonathan Lawson, CEO of Vision Express, said: “The UK is suffering from a dearth of skills, while at the same time experience high levels of youth unemployment. The government announcements on Apprenticeships are welcome, but the fact is business leaders need to come together on this issue in order to tackle the problem head on. 

“The 5% Club has been launched to ask all companies in the UK to raise levels of graduates, apprentices and sponsored students in their organisations. Retail is one of the best career paths for young apprentices and sponsored students. It is vital industry picks up the baton on this issue.”

Tessella Managing Director Alan Gaby welcomed Cameron’s pledge to address the UK training and apprenticeship schemes: “Helping provide opportunities for the next generation is, I feel, a responsibility of business leaders, but can also be a source of immense satisfaction.  It is especially important and relevant in today’s economic environment and amid the really tough challenges facing our country’s young people.”

What do you make of the government’s plans to overhaul the UK’s apprenticeship and training schemes?

The 5% Club Case Study: Makena Ireri

As part of our series examining success stories from the members of The 5% Club, meet Makena Ireri, a Civil Engineer graduate from Atkins.

Makena Ireri

Joined: April 2012

Role: Civil Engineer in the Energy (Nuclear) division

I joined Atkins after graduating from the University of Manchester. I have already been involved in a high profile project for EDF, one of major clients. The project – the Sizewell B Emergency Response Centre (ERC) – responds to a report by the Office for Nuclear Regulation which identified lessons to be learned from the events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. I carried out structural design and analysis of various components of the ERC, applying lot of the engineering theory I learned at university.

I was attracted to Atkins by its international reach and the opportunity to work on a range of exciting projects. The graduate training and development route offers mentoring and supplementary courses, and gives individuals the responsibility for their personal development, allowing me to tailor my route to chartership and manage my wider career development goals.