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SocEnv Blog | Why Employ a Degree Apprentice

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National Apprenticeship Week #NAW2020 (3rd – 9th February 2020) is THE time to find out more about apprenticeships and the benefits that you can make the most of. To help, the Society for the Environment has been talking to people in the know about the new Environmental Practitioner Degree apprenticeship to dig a little deeper!

Our previous #NAW2020 article focused around the top three reasons to do a degree apprenticeship. But the benefits of degree apprenticeships extend further – to employers and the whole environmental profession.

 

First, some background. What is the Environmental Practitioner Degree apprenticeship – and why has it been created?

Over the past two years, employers came together as part of a trailblazer group to design and develop the apprenticeship. The apprenticeship provides a secure job over a period of four to five years, giving apprentices an opportunity to learn the skills they need as an environmental professional whilst undertaking a part time environmental degree at university. The first Environmental Practitioner Degree apprentices started their apprenticeships in September 2019 at Kingston University.

Louise Beamish, Head of Acoustics at WSP and Chair of the Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship Trailblazer group, explains why the apprenticeship is so game-changing:

“Apprenticeships have proven to be an effective way to upskill existing staff and attract new recruits. WSP has supported the development of the Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship and I had the pleasure of chairing the trailblazer group.

The Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship is helping us to address the UK’s environmental talent shortage and develop the skills and knowledge that employers need today and tomorrow.”

 

Caroline Sudworth, Technical Apprenticeship Consortium (TAC) education specialist, agrees:

“Apprentices offer a great way to attract, recruit and retain talent into their business. By offering apprenticeships, employers can open doors to those from both traditional and non-traditional backgrounds and build proactive relationships with colleges and universities alike, enhancing the education and training that their business needs for the future.

Employers are empowered through apprenticeships to secure their future talent pool, driving their business forward, and embrace new and challenging technology with support from education and training providers.”

 

The apprenticeship is also directly linked to professional membership and registration, so apprentices will be able to access additional support from their professional body during their apprenticeship and achieve professional registration at the end of their training via the Registered Environmentalist (REnv) register, which is being launched in 2020.

Geoff Atkins, Head of Licensing, Registration and Standards at the Society for the Environment (SocEnv), adds:

“Attaching the REnv registration to the apprenticeship benefits not only apprentice but employer – as part of building a knowledgeable and skilful workforce. Employing registered environmental professionals showcases a commitment to professionalism and high standards and reflective of a good employer investing in the skills and careers of their staff.”

 

So, what do employers think of the new apprenticeship?

Louise Beamish again:

“WSP has recruited five new Environmental Practitioner Degree apprentices and, six months into their apprenticeship, they are engaged with their project and university work and have provided positive feedback about the opportunities the degree apprenticeship has afforded them.”

 

Waterman Group took a lead role in the development of the apprenticeship and are currently advertising for Environmental Practitioner Degree apprentices to join the Infrastructure and Environment division of their organisation.

Nick Harrison, Group Learning & Development Manager at Waterman Group, explains what the apprenticeship means for them:

“Alongside our Civil Engineering and Building Services apprenticeships, employing Environmental Practitioner Degree apprentices further broadens our offering at degree level. The apprenticeship provides an excellent opportunity to experience various disciplines within our infrastructure and environment business over the course of five years, fully supported by a line manager, dedicated mentor and supportive colleagues.”

 

Colleague Anna Bacon, Board Director of Waterman Infrastructure & Environment division, agrees:

“We recognise that widening our resource pool is an essential part of growing a sustainable business, and the apprenticeship provides us with a new route to identify and attract talented individuals into the sector who may otherwise be missed. The apprenticeship route gives us the opportunity to grow a new generation of exciting environmental professionals who can drive innovation and help meet the global and local challenges that our clients face.”

 

What next?

For all these reasons and more, the question may more accurately be: why not employ a degree apprentice in 2020?