Work | Published on: 8th February 2023
A rising engineering star has urged others to take on apprenticeships after gathering valuable experience on nationally significant projects.
Katie Rotherham, 21, is now three-and-a-half years into a six-year degree apprenticeship with Jacobs, studying part time towards her Civil Engineering Degree.
The former Carmel College pupil came through the Big Project, an initiative led by Jacobs and the college to boost the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) agenda, promoting opportunities available to students, and to forge closer links between schools and employers.
Playing an active role in promoting STEM, now Katie runs the Big Project with her former school and has a role as Enterprise Advisor. Katie is also running the new Big Project with English Martyrs as well as supporting the Big Big Project which reaches out to a wider audience across the Tees Valley and enables more students to engage.
During her degree apprenticeship with Jacobs, so far, she’s worked on projects for clients like National Highways and on major programmes like the Elizabeth Line, in London.
After gaining valuable hands-on experience, the Civil Engineering Degree Apprentice has encouraged others to sign up to apprenticeships when they get the chance.
Katie said: “The Big Project was a gateway which allowed me to do work experience with the company, and it allowed me to learn about the different disciplines of engineering and give me a better idea of the opportunities and what I could enjoy doing.
“It’s been a long-term relationship with Jacobs from aged 15, to going through college to coming into employment.”
Following its success, the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority got involved in the Big Big project to bring it to other schools via TeesValleyCareers.com and to broaden its scope.
Based at Jacobs’ Stockton office, Katie is working towards professional qualification with the ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers) hoping to achieve IEng in around two years’ time.
Katie has always been interested in design and technology. Her apprenticeship has seen her gain lots of exposure to different parts of Jacobs, from working on major infrastructure projects in highways and rail, to gaining experience in Sales – and she continues to work to get other young people interested in apprenticeship opportunities.
Katie said: “I think we need to let young people know all their options from the start of their education.
“There are a lot of different routes – I have friends doing law and accounting apprenticeships.
“As Jacobs apprentices, we work on live projects within multi-disciplinary project teams, while training with an approved apprenticeship training provider, so we build a range of relevant technical skills and knowledge we need to grow our careers.
“A typical day for me could range anywhere from working on CAD designs, being at STEM events, contributing to sales workshops in Manchester or London, or even being on site in full PPE inspecting safety barrier.
“I’m really hands on when it comes to projects and that’s what I love about apprenticeships – we get practical experience in meaningful roles on real projects. “You’re given a lot of responsibility, but with the right support from experienced people around you.”
This week marks National Apprenticeship Week which brings together businesses and apprentices from right across the country to shine a light of the positive impact apprenticeships bring.
Katie says she’s fully part of the team at Jacobs and has often called on the experience of her colleagues.
She added: “You’re surrounded with people who’ve done your university course or have been in your shoes. I struggled with a particular module last year and I had a team full of people I could tap on the shoulder to ask for help.
“That’s a huge benefit.
“I have my day at uni – but I’m fully part of the team like any other employee.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “We have a great reputation for STEM-related industries and our region – and our green energy ambitions mean we will have a growing number of opportunities our future workers can look forward to.
“Schemes like the Big Big Project and apprenticeships are absolutely vital to get our young people developing their skills, meeting future employers and discovering how far they can go on their doorstep.
“Katie is another shining example of rich talent being realised – and how young people can embark on a good well-paid and challenging career right here in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”
To search and apply for local apprenticeship vacancies visit teesvalley.jobs/apprenticeships
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