Michael Leach shares his Apprenticeship story

This National Apprenticeship week we’re shining a light on the engineers of the future. Michael Leach is an Apprentice within our Civils team in Birmingham, he discusses life at Patrick Parsons and the start of his engineering career.

When did you join Patrick Parsons?

I joined Patrick Parsons back in 2020. For the first 14 weeks of the apprenticeship I came into the office 1 day every other week, this was due to being enrolled in a CADCOE course which taught me everything I needed to know to be able to use AutoCAD fluently.

What is your apprenticeship in?

There are two different sections to the apprenticeship, these include the BTEC and the NVQ. The BTEC course title is ‘Construction and the Built Environment’, I have already completed this section and achieved a Distinction Merit grade. The second part of the apprenticeship is the NVQ; the title of this section of the course is ‘Built Environment Design’ the NVQ is the more important part in my opinion as it shows the work completed in the office to prove ability.

Why did you choose to study an apprenticeship, over other education options?

I chose an apprenticeship over university due to the learning benefits. The ability to be involved in projects alongside already qualified engineers allows learning to be excelled quickly, as you can ask questions directly related to real life applications. The experience in the work place alone, I believe is more beneficial than attending a university or similar.

Can you describe an average day as an apprentice at Patrick Parsons?

As an apprentice at Patrick Parsons a typical day includes working alongside engineers by assisting them with their projects, this can include basic design and responding to different Authorities/Councils comments on previous designs. In addition to this, I attend some meetings regarding projects I will be helping in, this provides a variety of experience throughout a whole project thus improving my knowledge even further. I also send various communications in relation to projects to either gain further information or issue our current drawings.

What skills have you gained for your future career that you otherwise wouldn’t have, if you had chosen a different path?

There are many skills in which I have gained by starting an apprenticeship in comparison to a different path. The first of which is teamwork, this is essential during projects as we must reach our deadlines; the teamwork among the engineers allows everything to be completed on time. Secondly is time-management, this is one of the most important aspects within day to day working in Patrick Parsons, at the beginning of the week we prioritise work and allocate out time wisely to achieve the best possible results; I could not of improved my time management skills in this way if I would have chosen a different path. Thirdly is the problem solving aspect of the apprenticeship. My problem solving skills have improved in many different ways as there isn’t a day that goes by which this skill does not get applied, it could be a minor drainage design issue or a major design breaking issue and we must apply our knowledge to solve these.

What advice would you give to other students thinking about choosing to do apprenticeship?

I would strongly recommend an apprenticeship to all other students as it is a perfect way of learning and applying what you have learnt directly into a working environment. Working alongside learning is ideal to gain experience in real-life applications, not only does this benefit you in the present but sets you up for future opportunities as you would have achieved a qualification and also had 2-4 years’ work experience which is highly desirable to future employers.

What are the best things about working at Patrick Parsons?

My favourite thing about working at Patrick Parsons is the people. When I first started my apprenticeship I was welcomed into the team like I had been there for years, everyone is approachable which makes asking questions a lot easier! The teamwork in the office is also incredible and from my first day I could see all of the different people working together to ensure a project runs smoothly, this is an ideal working situation to me and why I enjoy working at Patrick Parsons.

What are your favourite things about engineering?

My favourite aspect of engineering is learning how things work and also how they are made/designed. Every aspect of life includes engineering and virtually everything in the work has been designed and engineered in some form, learning how some of these things are made and then being able to design something myself which will be actively used within the world interests me. By being an engineer you also have to be creative and think outside the box which means no one project will ever be the same!

How long do you have left until your apprenticeship is complete?

I roughly have 1-2 years left in my apprenticeship, I have to complete my NVQ and the end point assessment and after this I would have achieved my qualification.

What are your career goals?

Firstly I want to become a Civil engineer and would like to manage and control my own projects from start to finish. After achieving this goal I would love to work my way up to become a senior or principal engineer. This would require many years of training and experience but due to my apprenticeship at Patrick Parsons I have already begun this journey!

What’s next?

I want to complete my apprenticeship at the level I am currently at and once completed I will move to a higher education apprenticeship to then achieve a degree level qualification whilst still being in the workplace.

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