Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2023 – meet Roberta Whitlock,
Graduate Apprentice Site Engineer – Wills Bros/University of Strathclyde.
Which Apprenticeship I am doing?
I am currently doing a Graduate Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering. I am studying BSc Civil and Environmental Engineering at The University of Strathclyde, which I attend remotely once a week. Each month we go into the University in person for Lab days and/or exams. Alongside this, I work on site with Wills Bros. I have been working with structures engineers on the build of the A939 New Gairnshiel Bridge in Aberdeenshire.
I am a mature student, beginning the apprenticeship when I was 30. I had previously attended university and completed a full time BSc. I was always strong academically and followed the path I was encouraged into post school, given my high grades. I loved my degree, but I didn’t anticipate how much I would prefer working outdoors. I have worked in many areas since I initially graduated 10 years ago, predominantly in extreme sports (Snowsport and Scuba). I also worked as an Operative and Dumper/Roller Driver in construction for some years. Eventually I accepted a role which combined these two disciplines and moved into Civil Engineering for Wills Bros, where I will be trained in the practical elements of Site Engineering alongside achieving my degree.
Why I chose an Apprenticeship?
I chose an apprenticeship as it allowed me to learn the job on the go. Having already completed a degree I wanted to know how well the industry suited me while studying – not to invest more years into an industry I may not be suited to. I love that I get to learn practical skills alongside the academic modules and earn a wage while I study. An apprenticeship can be challenging; it is a well-structured path, where you are given everything, you need to succeed but it requires a lot of hard work from the apprentice.
I am enjoying my job and the studies in equal measure. There is a big push for diversity in the industry and I would encourage more women or marginalised groups to apply for Engineering roles.
Roberta Whitlock, BSc
How is the job?
The job is great! I am lucky to be working on some exciting projects with people who are inspirational in the industry. The job is fast paced, and no two days are the same. I am enjoying my job and the studies in equal measure. There is a big push for diversity in the industry and I would encourage more women or marginalised groups to apply for Engineering roles. It is an area that is still male dominated but there is no reason for it to stay this way.