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Our first apprentice, Kane Axten, tells us about his time here.
Engineering is an important part of Bryden Wood, and the wider UK Economy. An Engineering UK survey found that no less than 27% of enterprises in the UK are engineering-related, with the sector growing in size by 5.6%, from 2015 to 2016. The industry already generates 23% of the UK’s total turnover and employs 5.6 million people, but more are needed. In fact, there’s an annual shortfall of around 59,000 graduates and technicians against available roles. This shortfall is acutely felt in construction because trained engineers are often lured away into the tech industry where their ability to think around a problem, and solve technical challenges is highly prized.
Engineering within Bryden Wood
At Bryden Wood, engineers are key members of integrated teams and work closely with architects, computational designers, data analysts and mathematical modellers. It’s a powerful combination of skill sets that finds innovative solutions to design challenges. And as you might expect from a leader in tech-led design and construction, the workflows are 100% digital. That’s why we particularly value young people who have grown up with technology, and games such as Minecraft. Their 3D, “virtual” thinking gives them a head start in the computer modelling that our engineers use. From defining problems and generating creative solutions, then testing and refining those solutions, through to the efficient execution of final assets, the process is digital and forward looking. The question for us is not “how is this done traditionally?”, but “what is the best possible way to do this?” For young digital thinkers, as for all of our engineers, that commitment to innovation, is a compelling reason to work here, rather than the technology sector.
How to get into engineering at Bryden Wood
Awareness of what engineers do, and the attractions of the industry, is improving. But how do you get a job in it? Many assume that you need to have a university degree, and that’s a great option, but not the only one. Taking the apprenticeship route has many benefits. It immediately places you within the workplace where you learn practical skills, whilst engaging in the academic work needed to gain professional qualifications. So a great choice for young people who like to be hands on while they learn.
Apprenticeship progression within Bryden Wood
Our apprentices are part of a learning culture where all non-chartered staff are supported in gaining their chartership through a CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) training scheme. (In fact, some senior staff members from Bryden Wood sit on the CIBSE Training and Diversity Group, helping to audit CIBSE accredited training schemes at other companies.) Our commitment to learning means that everyone here has the opportunity to study for qualifications, leading to membership of professional bodies. And there is a clear pathway for each apprentice, though to Chartered Engineer level. It’s to attract young people and develop their talents that, for the last few years, Bryden Wood has been taking on apprentices. We currently employ apprentices at all levels: including those working towards an HND and university degree.
Our first apprentice, Kane Axten, tells us about his time here.
Why an apprenticeship, not university?
“When I left school, after A Levels, I knew I was interested in the construction industry, but didn't feel university was right for me. I wanted work experience and an income, not a loan, so I applied for an Advanced Level Digital Delivery Apprenticeship through www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship.”
What do you do at Bryden Wood?
“I am what’s called a BIM (Buildings Information Modelling) Coordinator, which means I digitally design and deliver building services in the Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) Engineering department. The 3D design models I create contain all the data that’s needed. So you can see not just how an assembly looks, but how it will operate as well. The M&E models can be combined with mechanical, structural and architectural models to make a complete “virtual” building. That lets us see how systems interacts with other aspects of the design, and also allows us to assess compliance.”
How do you create the models?
“It’s all done in software suites which I learnt to use at Bryden Wood. Usually, I work in a project team alongside other people under the direction of a Project Manager. People with different design disciplines within Bryden Wood will work together. There may also be external consultants working on the same projects.”
What’s the academic part like?
“Bryden Wood are currently sponsoring my HND in Building Services Engineering at Southbank University. Once I complete that in 2021, I will study part time for a full degree in building services engineering whilst continuing to work. My aim is to become BIM Lead within M&E.”
So is it all about computers?
“Technology is really important to what I do for Bryden Wood. They call younger people like me "digital natives", because we've grown up with computers. In the end though, everything comes back to people. In meetings with contractors, and other partners, I've had to present my solutions, and work with others to implement them within the overall design. I was really pleased when my manager gave me a data centre project to lead, from the BIM side.”
So would you recommend apprenticeships?
“My apprenticeship has shown me what's possible and given me the ambition to go on and do a university degree. On the way, I've matured as a person and have gained confidence from real-life problem solving. I also value being part of a team. I'd say to any school leaver who's not sure about university that there are some great career paths to be taken through apprenticeships. I had a couple of years working in a job I didn't really like after school. The apprenticeship has made work more enjoyable and given me the prospect of a career, not just a job.”
Do you get a chance to move up?
“Yes, it’s about ability. At Bryden Wood I have progressed to operate at an intermediate level and, on one data centre project, a senior level where I was the M&E BIM Lead on a data centre project. It’s been a positive experience with Bryden Wood, and a pathway that others should take a closer look at.”
Find out more about apprenticeships
A good place to look is www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship where Kane started his journey. You can see what is available here, and the many other career options apprenticeships give you. And if you’d like to know more about the tech-led approach to engineering in construction, search “Bryden Wood”.