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WSP apprentices can work on large infrastructure projects

WSP apprentices can work on large infrastructure projects

 August 19, 2022

An apprenticeship at WSP can in fact be life-changing.

The diverse team building the UK’s new high-capacity, zero-carbon railway includes a new generation of apprentices – thanks to the emphasis placed by HS2 and suppliers such as WSP on recruiting talented individuals into the industry. 

Jasmine Ewers and Josie Cheeseman [pictured above] are two of these apprentices.

Conducting road safety audits and design narratives

Jasmine WSP engineers

Jasmine [pictured above right] has worked on Phase 2B, conducting road safety audits and design narratives for public rights of way to support the Hybrid Bill design stage. Most recently, she conducted a review of temporary direct accesses from worksites to the local highway network, from which she produced a compliant design for each location and presented these to HS2.

Assisting senior engineers with design work

Josie worked with the Old Oak Common station team for two and a half years, assisting senior engineers with design work across the mechanical, electrical and public health (MEP) disciplines. She contributed to the successful outcome of RIBA Stage 3 design for the project. 

Range of experience

“My role has evolved alongside the project,” Josie explains. “I’ve developed CAD skills, conducted a BREEAM baseline study, become involved in more technical design, done presentations and conducted meetings. I’m now working in project management on Phase 2B, administering the lessons learnt process. It’s a range of experience you can’t get in any other way.”

Jasmine believes her time on HS2 has provided a strong foundation for her career. “Working on HS2 has been a great learning experience, I have gained a wide breath of knowledge, worked with engineers who have been very supportive and a great resource as they have a lot of experience and are happy to pass on their expertise. It’s shaped me into a well-rounded engineer, given me confidence to solve complex problems, and helped me make lifelong friends.”

Raising the profile of apprenticeships 

As a degree apprentice, Jasmine attends university in addition to working as part of WSP's HS2 team. Yet she also finds time to raise the profile of apprenticeships and champion women in engineering, being featured by the BBC and other media. She is also part of the Women in Engineering Society Apprentice board, where she has voiced concerns and priorities for apprentices. 

“I believe it is important to raise the profile of apprenticeships because there is an overall lack of knowledge when it comes to the types of apprenticeships available and a shortage of women in the field,” says Jasmine. “I want to show others the wide variety of opportunities within engineering, the skills you can learn and what you can achieve even during the early stages of your career as an apprentice”.

Josie is equally keen to promote the benefits of the apprenticeship route: “For the right people, an apprenticeship can be life-changing. If you have the enthusiasm, you can go far – and take advantage of opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise get at a young age.

“I think it’s good for the industry too. I really believe that an apprenticeship is the most efficient and effective route to producing good engineers. All engineers should be committed to continuing professional development and apprenticeships install a proactive approach to learning from very early on.”

The industry benefits of diversity

On a wider level, both Josie and Jasmine believe that attracting people from different backgrounds to the industry can only be a good thing. “Diversity of people – whether that’s in age, race, gender or ability – can help bring attention to issues that others may have overlooked,” Josie comments. “It’s important to have teams that demographically resemble the population they serve; it makes them better able to empathise with end users. For this reason, it’s important not to focus solely on young people, but also to make the apprenticeship route attractive to people who are changing careers – older people who would bring different experiences."

As engineers strive to deliver a sustainable and safe built environment for future generations, HS2 has led the way with an equality and diversity standard across its supply chain, as well as initiatives to encourage women into the very male-dominated field of rail engineering. Jasmine thinks that challenging preconceptions is key to getting more people from underrepresented groups into engineering.

“You need to challenge the stereotypical view of what an engineer is which will allow people from different backgrounds to remove the stereotype and see themselves in the role. It is important for people to hear stories from others with similar backgrounds, which is why I’m happy to share my story. But we also need to be honest about the types of issues you may face and provide solutions. This will help to relieve any anxiety about joining the field.”

Josie agrees. “If we all take small steps to promote our industry and the opportunities in it, we can make a big difference.”

Inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals

When it comes to inspiring future generations, Josie has seen encouraging signs while volunteering as a STEM ambassador to schools: “The schools I’ve volunteered with have a strong diversity ethos. In primary schools, the children know what an engineer does and lots of the pictures they’ve drawn have been of women engineers.”

Josie was named as the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers’ (CIBSE) Apprentice of the Year – an honour she describes as “empowering” – while Jasmine was awarded the Top 50 Women in Engineering award (WE50) for current and former apprentices by the Women in Engineering Society (WES). She was recently shortlisted for Apprentice of the Year at the HS2 People Legacy Inspiration Awards, attending an award ceremony at the Palace of Westminster. 

“I would highly recommend engineering apprenticeships to anyone who is thinking about it,” says Jasmine. “Engineering is very broad and there are lots of opportunities and roles you can undertake.”

Launch a STEM career via a WSP apprenticeship 

At WSP, apprentices push boundaries while harnessing ideas and sharing insights across diverse, international team to create a world that's cleaner, greener and safer.

Apprentices are changemakers in the fight against climate change as they influence policy, engage communities and think 'net zero first'. They shape the communities of tomorrow and help society thrive.

Join WSP via an apprenticeship and be part of the extraordinary team who make good things happen.


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