Why apprenticeship trumped university as a first career step in construction for Latisha Darling Mattis of Aecom
Why did you choose apprenticeship as the pathway to a career in construction?
I joined Aecom after it visited my school as part of an outreach programme. I’d already decided to pursue a career in construction after my A-Levels but thought that university was my only option.
I had a place on a degree course confirmed, but once I met with the team and they offered me a job I deferred. I joined the Canada Water project, which was very exciting as
I felt like I was playing a part in helping to transform my local area.
I was given the options to start as an assistant administrator or join as an apprentice. I chose to start in admin first before committing to an apprenticeship. This gave me a flavour of what it is like to work on big, complex schemes and I loved it.
“Going to university is no longer the only option if you want to embark on a professional career in construction, and earning while you learn is an added bonus”
Six months later, I joined Aecom’s apprenticeship programme. I now attend the University College of Estate Management one day a week studying for a degree in Construction Project Management, and spend the rest working as a member of Aecom’s project management team.
I’m now working on other major projects, including Oriel, which is the proposed new purpose-built centre for Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, UCL and Moorfields Eye Charity.
Would you recommend the apprenticeship route?
Going to university is no longer the only option if you want to embark on a professional career in construction, and earning while you learn is an added bonus. Yet there is still very little information about apprenticeships out there for school leavers.
That’s why outreach programmes with schools are so important to help attract more people, particularly girls, into our industry. That one meeting with Aecom has changed the direction of my career.
I’d like to help raise awareness of apprenticeships among girls and show
that they are a viable route into construction. I think there is still a misconception that a career in construction is all about muddy boots and hard hats, but the reality is very different.
I’m now involved with my company’s ongoing relationship with my old school and I’ve been back to share my experiences. We hope to recruit more apprentices through this channel in the future.