National Apprenticeship Week 2024

David Powell

Tell us a bit about your apprenticeship. 

The Transport Planning Apprenticeship is a Level 2 qualification run as a collaboration between Leeds College of Building, the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) and more recently, the Transport Planning Society (TPS). The apprenticeship is advertised as a three-year course, consisting of six two-week college teaching blocks, a workplace skills portfolio and End Point Assessment (EPA). Although advertised as a three-year course, there is the opportunity to complete the qualification in significantly less time. The apprenticeship is broken down into three areas. Knowledge - college teaching blocks were undertaken at Leeds Collage of Building and consisted of mainly classroom lessons across a broad range of topics, with assignments to test knowledge on the subjects. Skills – the workplace skills portfolio is a list of key skills that apprentices are required to demonstrate through the work they undertake. Competency – the End Point Assessment tests both the academic and work-based skills competencies of the apprentice through a profession discussion with members of the CIHT. In order to pass the apprenticeship, each of the three areas must be satisfied. 

What made you want to do an apprenticeship?  

Having been medically discharged due to a knee injury after seven years serving in the Army, I was looking to start a new career in a field which interested me. Prior to the Army, I had completed a degree in Human Geography and Town Planning, so I’ve always had a keen interest in the built environment. Being slightly more mature than your average apprentice at 30 years old, with a mortgage and bills to pay, I also needed a position that would allow me to deliver against my financial commitments, whilst still being in an area I was passionate about. The apprenticeship route allowed me to do this. 

What advice would you give to someone considering an apprenticeship?  

When I left school, apprenticeships were mainly tailored towards those wanting to go into manufacturing or building trades and university was the standard route for getting into industries such as transport. Having now being through both routes, I can say that, in my opinion, I found the apprenticeship much more informative and useful in terms of practical skills than a university education. With the nice added bonus of not paying tuition fees and receiving a salary. Had the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship been available to me when I was 18, I would certainly choose this route over university. 

What have you enjoyed most about your apprenticeship? 

Meeting and studying with other apprentices from across the country, working at a broad range of companies/organisations on a variety of different tasks. It gave me a really good insight into the diverse range of transport planning work that’s undertaken by different organisations and I’m still in contact on a personal and professional level with many to this day. 

How do you manage your work-life balance with completing an apprenticeship? 

With the exception of the college teaching blocks, the work life balance was quite easy to manage. Course tutors would try to ensure that all work and assignments were completed during the two-week block. This did make the blocks quite intense in terms of long days and assignments to be completed in the evening. However, it did remove any issues of having assignments due when at your place of work. When it was time to complete the End Point Assessment, I was allowed to allocate some time from my week to work on the submission. 

 How has completing an Apprenticeship helped with your career progression at the CA? 

Completing the apprenticeship has given me a solid footing in terms of the knowledge and experience I have needed to kickstart my journey within the transport industry and the CA. From both the theoretical side of things at college, to the real-life experience gained working at the CA. In Novemeber 2019 I won the CIHT Yorkshire and the Humber Apprentice of the Year award, something Matt Riley from the second cohort of Transport Planning Apprentices at the CA also achieved. This demonstrates not only how well the course is run, but how well the CA utilises it’s apprentices in the work that we do. In the same month I became a Transport Planner at the CA, and two and a half years later a Senior Transport Planner jointly managing the team. The apprenticeship has played a huge role in my success. 

Anything else you’d like to add? 

 As a manager: 

What advice would you give to another manager considering supporting an apprenticeship? 

Consider whether an apprenticeship is needed. The Transport Planning team had struggled to recruit Transport Planners for a number of years, so in order to fill long standing vacancies, the team started to develop its own future Transport Planners through the apprenticeship programme. Depending on the successful applicant's previous level of experience in the workplace, apprentices and apprenticeships can require quite a significant amount of a manager's time and resource. Due to the level of resource required, an assistant position might be more suitable if the reason for creating a new position is due to resource constraints. 


Tell us how the information gathered from the apprenticeship reviews was included into performance management reviews? 

After each teaching block with Leeds College of Building, apprentice’s line mangers receive a block report from the collage. This would highlight how the student had performed in the last block, any issues with attendance and assignment scores. During the apprenticeship an assessor is also allocated by the CIHT to each student to review the skills portfolio on an ad hoc basis. Apprentice line managers also receive these reports from the assessor. With this information, line managers observations at work and the apprentice's input, performance management reviews can be tailored to identify areas of improvement or gaps within the apprentice’s skills portfolio. 


How have you seen your Apprentice grow/develop whilst undertaking the apprenticeship? 

From initially interviewing the candidate, mentoring, promoting, to recently giving them responsibility for managing their own apprentice. The development of an apprentice, although at times challenging and a lot of work, is incredibly rewarding. 

Are you wanting to find an apprenticeship opportunity of your own? Contact our Employment Support team to find out more. Click here.