What is it like to be an Engineering Apprentice?

Marcus Bazzi is an Apprentice within our Structures team in Birmingham. This National Apprenticeship week we’re shining a light on the engineers of the future, Marcus discusses life at Patrick Parsons and why he chose an apprenticeship over the traditional university route.

When did you join Patrick Parsons?

I joined Patrick Parsons in January 2020, with my first 14 weeks being predominately College based. During this initial period, I attended the office once a fortnight to give me the opportunity to integrate with the team, while completing an 8-week CAD course at college, followed by a 6-week period to complete the majority of my BTEC course.

What is your apprenticeship in?

My official job title is ‘Apprentice Structural Engineering Technician’; however, my apprenticeship is split into two separate stages. Initially, I completed a Level 3 BTEC in ‘Construction and the Built Environment’, this part of the apprenticeship taught me all the basic principles of Engineering, Construction Methods and Techniques and was solely coursework and exam based. The second half of the course involves completing a Level 3 NVQ called ‘Built Environment Design’. Ultimately, this makes up the larger portion of the course as it is completed by submitting a variety of evidence to a portfolio that has been completed and compiled within the workplace while carrying my normal day to day projects. My BTEC was officially completed earlier this year and I achieved a ‘Distinction, Distinction’ Grade.

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

An apprenticeship appealed to me more than going down a traditional academic route, as it allowed me to gain experience and knowledge in more ways than an education curriculum could. As well as learning the technical side of the role and progressing in a professional aspect, the apprenticeship has also allowed me to work in a real-world environment, whilst learning. I work on real life, active projects alongside a team of knowledgeable and experienced engineers and technicians daily, which means that learning and improving is a constant and natural progression. My work is reviewed, corrected, and improved in front of me, with help and advice being provided regularly.

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

An average day at Patrick Parsons includes working on a variety of different projects. Day to day, I could be working with a different engineer, on a different project, which requires different skills and promotes various ways of thinking and problem solving, all while learning and gaining a qualification. Some days I could be working on a large new housing site with over 250 houses and the next I could be detailing a 4-storey retirement home or an apartment block. Each client we work with has a different procedure for how they carry out their projects, and I regularly attend meetings alongside our Engineers to discuss design methods and strategies.

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

The inter-personal skills that I have gained through completing the apprenticeship have been the most notable. Every day, I must communicate with a host of different people, often from various businesses that may work in a various discipline. Clear, concise, and regular communication with Engineers and other project design members is essential to producing good quality work and deliver it on time. Although in an academic environment you are expected to meet certain deadlines, I feel that working on active, real-life projects really helps you to develop a higher level of organisation and makes you very good at effectively managing your time and workload.

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

My advice to other potential future apprentices would be to go for it. There are no disadvantages to completing an apprenticeship in a field that you are interested in pursuing a career in. Not only do you gain a well-recognised and widely accepted qualification, you do so while getting paid (rather than paying high further education fees), and gaining valuable work and life experiences. An apprenticeship is a brilliant gateway into successful career and will lead you towards many future opportunities and rewards.

What are the best things about working at Patrick Parsons?

The company culture is my favourite thing about working at Patrick Parsons. When I first started, my immediate team were very welcoming and approachable.  , they were very supportive and patient towards me while I asked questions and tried to navigate my way through my first few projects. My team have guided me into a position where now, 2 years later, I can get on with projects that are given to me independently knowing that they are still there should I need their support again.

What are your favourite things about engineering?

The problem solving. I enjoy coming into work every day and having a new challenge to face, or new problem to be solved. Each project brings with it a new set of issues or problems that need to be solved to progress, no day or job is ever like the last. Working alongside the engineers and discussing various possible solutions to problems, and then putting the solutions into practice in my work makes each day interesting and exciting.

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

I’m hoping that the apprenticeship can be completed by the end of this year! I only have my NVQ left to finish which requires me to submit a large portfolio of work-based evidence. However, I believe the official deadline is the end of 2023 as the COVID outbreak delayed it by around 12 months!

What are your career goals?

Honestly, I’m not 100% sure yet what my goals are in the far future! I have explored the possibility of progressing onto even further education with support from Patrick Parsons, maybe a degree? This could lead me down the Design Engineering route which I think could be interesting. Right now, though, my career goals are to complete my current apprenticeship to a high standard and gain some more valuable on the job experience. This will set myself up nicely with the tools and skillset I need to take my career into many different directions.

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