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Apprenticeships: A Pathway to Success

At KK we’re passionate about mentorship and investing in the future, and we’re proud to say our apprentices play a key part in this. Our apprentices can gain hands-on industry experience, as well as nationally recognised qualifications while earning. Part of our “KK Academy”, they also receive strong mentorship and exposure to our wide range of sectors.

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, we wanted to share some insights from some KK employees who can attest to the incredible experiences they’ve had as apprentices.

KK’s Current Electrical Design Apprentice…

Tommy Bond found himself in the fortuitous position of being in the right place at the right time when he encountered our director, Gavin Cowling, during a bus ride in West London. This meeting led to an interview, and subsequently, an incredible opportunity…

An electrician by trade, Tommy had recently completed his course and he was discussing his future with his dad over the phone, including the pros and cons of a Level 4 Design course. When Gavin overheard, he started talking to Tommy about his experience and the industry. They discussed apprenticeship opportunities that Tommy might be interested in and different routes into the profession. Gavin then offered Tommy a temporary placement at KK, which he eagerly accepted. In September, Tommy’s temporary position evolved into an apprenticeship, which entails a 2-year HNC Building Services course through London South Bank University, followed by a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Currently, Tommy divides his time between 4 days in the office and 1 day at university. He expresses his enjoyment with the work, relishing the opportunity for site visits. Reflecting on his electrician training, he admits to never having anticipated being in this fantastic position – working and studying, receiving mentorship, and enjoying the varied nature of the role. He wholeheartedly encourages those considering an apprenticeship to “just go for it”. The real-world experience may not be as attainable through the traditional route, whereas this is one of the main benefits of an apprenticeship…

At the same time, Tommy is enjoying the university aspect of his journey and he’s forged friendships on his course with some like-minded people. His enthusiasm is evident as he talks about his goal of achieving chartered status. Clearly, he thoroughly enjoys the whole experience and being immersed in the collaborative environment, describing the team around him as “brilliant and supportive”.

“Tommy has been at KK for some 9 months now beginning his journey as a trainee electrical engineer within the M&E department. He is progressing well and, in that time, has become a valuable member to the team. He regularly assists on projects carrying out various calculations, surveys, and inspections on site. Having Tommy as an apprentice has been a real benefit to the team and I’m sure Tommy will continue to progress and become an extremely competent electrical design engineer. Keep up the good work Tommy.”

Todd Jones, Senior Electrical Engineer.

An Architecture Apprentice Success Story…

In 2018 Joshua Compton had just completed his BA degree in Architecture and Planning at The University West of England. Prior to this, Josh had the opportunity to gain practical exposure to an architectural practice via the RIBA Mentoring scheme during his undergraduate course, to which KK became his mentor for 3 separate sessions. Josh also undertook a week’s work experience with KK before embarking on his chosen university path back in 2013. After gaining a position as a Part 1 Architectural assistant with KK, Josh had discussions with our director, Simon Weston, about his potential next steps.

At the time, UWE was in talks about launching an apprenticeship course for architects, and Joshua decided to embark on this journey. He became part of the first cohort to undergo this apprenticeship scheme at UWE, which combines the Part 2 and Part 3 aspects of the typical architectural educational route. In architecture, Part 2 typically involves pursuing a masters or diploma of architecture, and Part 3 facilitates further education to meet the registration criteria to become an Architect. Joshua chose the apprenticeship route with us, involving a 4-year programme, of which he is currently completing his final year…

Joshua describes the experience as immensely beneficial, particularly in the third year when there would often be overlap between modules and the work he was doing. This dynamic allowed him to apply his practical experiences to enhance his studies and vice versa. Typically, this involves dedicating up to 2 days per week for university study, while spending 3 days working at a practice.

Leaving university can be overwhelming when deciding which path to take. However, an apprenticeship not only provides the necessary qualifications but also an invaluable and varied experience. Rather than the minimum 2 years required in a practice, Joshua has accumulated 5 years of experience through KK, testament to his dedication and hard work. Additionally, as a sponsored route it provides the opportunity to earn while you learn.

Joshua expresses deep appreciation for KK’s unwavering support, understanding his needs and helping him strike a balance between university and work.

“I couldn’t recommend an apprenticeship more – I would say it’s all about the practice you choose. KK has been incredibly supportive throughout, providing a strong mentorship scheme and ongoing dialogue with myself and university to ensure a smooth process.”

Joshua Compton, Part 2 Architectural Assistant.

“It’s been a real privilege to mentor Josh these last few years and follow his journey from student to architect. Having an apprentice such as Josh has been a real benefit to the office. It brings the energy and enthusiasm of youth whilst at the same time the combination of work and college leads to an accelerated learning and growing curiosity about tasks that is infectious.”

Matt Wilkins, Associate Architect and Sustainability Consultant

A Technologist Apprentice and His Lifelong Learning…

Rounding off our collection of stories from apprentices is Tom Cully, who joined us at the age of 16 and is someone who has grown with KK ever since. Tom is a shining example of our sponsored apprenticeship scheme. He joined KK as a school leaver in 2013, obtaining his BA (Hons) in Architectural Technology with first-class honours in 2020.

Tom embodies our organic ethos, sharing his knowledge and skills with new trainees and actively participating in their development and supporting them from the moment they join the company through their professional qualifications.

Reflecting on his apprenticeship, Tom speaks highly of the support he received and the practical experience it provided. This gave him access to invaluable hands-on experience, from site visits, client meetings, managing consultants and learning internal process.

Balancing work and study could be challenging at times, but the strong mentorship at KK proved immensely helpful. It is no surprise that during his time at college, Tom’s hard work was consistently recognised through merits and distinctions.

In recent years, Tom has been instrumental in creating drawing and modelling standards throughout the company and has taken a lead on the integration of BIM into all our workflows. With this interest in BIM and 3D modelling, Tom is currently enrolled onto a BRE BIM course, which will allow him to further expand his knowledge in an area which interests him. Tom’s involvement in the BIM course demonstrates his commitment to lifelong learning, which aligns with our company values to encourage employees and support them through developing their skills and defining their career path.

Throughout the past decade, he has achieved remarkable success. Tom’s experience working real-world industry projects such as complex refurbishments, new build educational projects such as sports halls and even the tropical house at Marwell Zoo have allowed him to advance his technical skills, leading him to become a chartered professional. Tom is currently involved in the stakeholder engagement process on numerous hospital projects.

'It has been an absolute pleasure to support Tom on his journey from school leaver, through his college and degree stages to his professional qualification. Tom has always shown a huge amount of dedication to his work and is very level-headed and methodical, allowing him to work on a large variety of project styles and project stages.'

Chris Stokes, Regional Project Director.

“Tom has a great attitude, he’s always positive and shows great willing to help the team. He’s dedicated to KK and always puts in 100% effort in everything he does.”

Charlie Wynn and Matthew Clarke, Technical Managers