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Alex

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Alex's STORY

Trainee Site Engineer
Milestone Infrastructure, a part of MGroupServices

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Alex joined Milestone Infrastructure, Skanska a part of MGroupServices, in August 2020 on an apprenticeship as a Trainee Site Engineer. Read more about Alex’s journey in the energy and utilities sector and his experiences as an apprentice.

How long have you been with Milestone and what is your role?

I joined Milestone, Skanska at the time, in August 2020 as a Trainee Site Engineer.

How have you found your apprenticeship so far?

I started off on projects and schemes such at footpaths that taught me a lot about quality control, which helped me understand what is expected and required of a job. This allowed me to learn the basic fundamentals of the work that we do and what is needed, without huge amounts of pressure.

Were you shadowing anyone when started and learning as you go?

I had a line manager at the start but he was on a different job. I’ve worked in construction before this role, so I was able to utilise that experience in the early stages to support the sub-agent and site manager. I could travel around and do site checks to understand how we work.

What made you move onto the A40 scheme?

Once I had finished with the footpaths, Richard Stonehouse mentioned about moving onto the A40 as it made the most sense. Richard Scott then became my mentor and working with him really helped me understand what it meant to be an engineer.

What has stood out for you whilst working on the A40?

It’s all been new to me but one of the highlights has been managing the attenuation pond. I set out the profiles, did the levels and set out the drainage which was a nice opportunity to manage an earthworks project. This wasn’t quite as intensive as some of the other bits but I was able to work independently on this. The rest of the work on the scheme has been a very steep learning curve.

What got you interested in doing an apprenticeship at Milestone?

After doing my A-Levels, I didn’t want to go straight to university, so I went to work with a friend who is a builder. By the end of the year, I had got really interested in the theory behind the work that I was doing. I had a place at university doing electrical engineering, but on reflection civils interested me more. I applied for a design role initially and the HR lady I spoke to introduced me to Richard Stonehouse and Ed Hartley to discuss this role. It was incredibly relaxing and welcoming and I knew I wanted to be part of the business and it was something that I wanted to do. I like to see the physical results of the work that I do and solving problems, which interested me in this.

What challenges have you faced in your role so far?

Learning to deal with the workload and the problems that can arise in the role such as utilities underground when doing the work. Meeting deadlines requires constant focus and studying alongside this needs lots of careful time management.

How does the studying element of the apprenticeship work?

I study once a week at university in Bristol, it is a five-year course and the plan is to get incorporated in my sixth year.

Do you get time to plan and assess your progress?

Richard Scott has helped me to plan my development and training, so there has been a lot of help from colleagues. Throughout the team, I get help from everyone. It never feels like I’m treated as an apprentice, but as a part of the team. I know that I can pick up the phone and ask for support as and when needed.

I’ve ended up with a good team so it feels like I’m a valued member of the team. I like the fact that I am able to get involved in so much stuff and throw myself in at the deep end. If there is something that I am interested in I know that I can ask to be involved and get given that opportunity. I learn by doing stuff and this really allows me to do that. I’m definitely given a freedom to learn new things and take on new responsibilities.

One big thing is gaining on the job experience can’t be beaten. Being out on site, understanding the people and the works that we do is the most valuable thing, as you can’t learn that in a classroom.

What has been the most valuable lesson that you have learned during your apprenticeship?

One big thing is gaining on the job experience can’t be beaten. Being out on site, understanding the people and the works that we do is the most valuable thing, as you can’t learn that in a classroom.

What is a typical day like for you?

I start on site with a briefing at 7am, and have a meeting every afternoon with the subcontractor to agree plans for the week ahead. We then work through these plans, which change weekly. I like to mix up being on site and in the office, each day is varied and unpredictable,
for example something could come up that you don’t expect.

What are you plans for after your apprenticeship?

Ideally, I would like to move up to sub-agent or site manager. I would like to stay in civils for a while and expand my skills and knowledge. I would also like to eventually get chartered, but this will take some more training and studying. I’ve read up on getting chartered so this might require getting a masters, I might take a few years not studying before going into this.

Where did you find out about the apprenticeship?

Just through research. I already had a place at university but I was considering switching to civils. Once this popped up I knew I had to go for it.
The people that I met in the introduction really sold it to me, the induction day had people in my position telling us about what they do. It
all sounded really interesting, particularly the project management aspects. I was initially worried about it being a five-year apprenticeship but it’s gone incredibly quick.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others?

100%. If they were in my position, I would say go for it. I wasn’t sure about university and then knew I wanted to work as well as learning the theory behind it. You get to cut your teeth with on-site experience whilst earning money and learning about the works that we do.
I didn’t even know what a site engineer was until I spoke to Richard Stonehouse, so apprenticeships give you an opportunity to learn about new roles.

You get to cut your teeth with on-site experience whilst earning money and learning about the works that we do.

You were recently commended at the Highways Awards, can you tell us a little bit about this?

It genuinely felt good to get that recognition. The early start and the work can be challenging, but it’s nice to have received this commendation to reflect that. I feel lucky to be working with people that support me and have given me that recognition. The night itself was really interesting, I got to meet some people from Dyer & Butler that will be joining us next year.

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