National Apprenticeship Week 2024

Ryder apprentices and team leaders reflect on the opportunities, benefits and contributions that apprenticeships have brought to them and our practice.

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) 2024 takes place 5-11 February.

The weeklong celebration brings together businesses and apprentices, to celebrate their achievements and the positive impact that apprenticeships make to communities, businesses and the wider economy.

To celebrate this year’s theme ‘Skills for Life’ we’re highlighting the opportunities that built environment apprenticeships have given to our people. Not only developing rewarding careers for themselves, but contributing to a workforce with future ready skills.

Ryder is the lead sponsor for the award winning PlanBEE higher apprenticeship programme in partnership with Gateshead College, and currently host apprentices in four of our offices, Newcastle, Manchester and more recently London and Vancouver. We proactively enhance their experience by contributing guest lectures, organising workshops, providing opportunities for site visits and inviting them to speak at events.

We also support and nurture colleagues studying their Level 7 architecture degree apprenticeship across four of our UK offices, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Newcastle. We supplement this with a range of other hybrid working and learning schemes in order to welcome a wider cohort into built environment education.

Ben Solly, Trainee Architectural Technologist (PlanBEE graduate)
PlanBEE helped me gain a stepping stone into the construction industry, allowing me to experience a range of disciplines across the industry and develop a well rounded understanding. I particularly enjoyed the opportunities PlanBEE presented me, such as Green Skills Day with Ryder. I strongly believe the opportunity to earn money whilst studying can greatly improve access into the industry, rather than going directly down the university route. I aspire to continue to develop my knowledge and complete my architectural technology degree at Leeds Beckett.

Luke Leadbeater, Design Assistant (PlanBEE year two)
The PlanBEE programme has enabled me to integrate academic learning with practical work experience across various sectors of the construction industry. Throughout my time on the programme, I have been involved in significant projects in the north east, including The Stephenson Building and Gateshead Riverside Park. Working in architecture, engineering, and quantity surveying has provided me with a multifaceted understanding of the construction industry. I am looking forward to what the future holds for me after PlanBEE.

Frejya Lehnen, Trainee Architect (degree apprenticeship)
I decided to apply for the apprenticeship halfway through my year out in practice with Ryder. I had learned so much in the six months of practice, than I would have had at that point and enjoyed it so much, I did not want to give that up. The apprenticeship was the perfect opportunity for me to get qualifications while continuing to work in practice. Since I attend Northumbria University remotely, I was initially worried that I would not get the full benefit from the apprenticeship, but the amount of support and flexibility I have been given both from the university and Ryder has been incredible and I am looking forward to the next few years.

Chris Malcolm, Partner
Freyja is the first person to go through the degree apprenticeship programme working from Scotland, so it is a new opportunity and experience for all of us in the team. The value it brings to Ryder is continued engagement with Freyja, and the ability to help continue build her skills and experience to meet the challenges of practice. For Freyja, it allows her to continue involvement with projects she has made valuable contributions to during her Part 1. The degree apprenticeship programme also gives her the benefit of accessing the experience within the team, many of whom are involved in architectural education to support her academic learning goals.

Nathan Armstrong, Design Assistant (PlanBEE year two)
Since joining the PlanBEE apprenticeship scheme, I have worked for a variety of construction bodies, gaining a wide experience across a range of sectors including, architecture, engineering, interior design, and quantity surveying. Over the duration of the programme, I have worked on a diverse number of projects around the country, contributing towards my knowledge, skills and behaviours as part of the scheme. Overall PlanBEE has provided myself with a in depth understanding of the construction industry, where I cannot wait to get started after PlanBEE!

Danielle Fryer, Design Assistant (PlanBEE year one)
The PlanBEE programme has been transformative, enhancing my confidence and providing a wide range of experiences. This opportunity allows me to delve into the many fields of the built environment which has broadened my skill set. The chance to work with many professionals has been invaluable and their mentorship has allowed me to excel at using many types of software like AutoCAD, Revit and Dialux. PlanBEE has been a platform for my personal and professional growth, equipping me with the knowledge and skills to excel whenever my career goes.

Ray Sellwood, Trainee Architect (degree apprenticeship)
During my time on the Degree Apprenticeship, I have acquired skills that are applicable to exciting live projects, fostering a promising start to my architectural journey. The seven year qualification hurdle is somewhat eased by the scheme’s financial support and ongoing professional development, helping break barriers for aspiring architects. With support from Ryder and Northumbria University, I look forward to the final two years, remaining confident that the degree apprenticeship paves the way for a promising career in architecture.

Emma McCutcheon, Trainee Architect (degree apprenticeship)
Undertaking an architectural degree apprenticeship at Ryder has provided invaluable practical experience, complementing my academic studies. Working alongside experienced professionals has significantly increased my technical and design skills. Ryder’s mentorship programme, pairing apprentices with seniors, has been a massive help in guiding my professional development, design portfolio, and career achievements. Access to resources like the materials library, BIM tools, CPD courses, and team critiques has enriched my architectural education beyond private study. This unique combination of hands on experience and comprehensive support reinforces the significant advantages of pursuing a masters degree, without the weight of student debt.

Lois Sykes, Trainee Architect (degree apprenticeship)
I am currently in my second year of the degree apprenticeship program at Oxford Brookes University, where practical experience is combined with academic research. My active involvement in Ryder projects such as the Liverpool Green Lanes and the National Rehabilitation Centre has influenced my university research, specifically focusing on improving health outcomes in the Old Oak Common regeneration area in London. Opting for the apprenticeship route has been a rewarding choice, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work as a trainee architect at Ryder, where I have received incredible support through the course.

Paul Bell, Partner
Lois is now into her second year of her apprenticeship at Oxford Brookes. In addition to continuing to support the team on projects including the National Rehabilitation Centre and the Academic Health Science Centre for the University of Liverpool, Lois has played an integral part in the development of our ideas for Liverpool Green Lanes, a Ryder generated proposition to improve the connectivity of Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter and address social inequality in the areas around the Knowledge Quarter. It has been fantastic to see how Lois has taken ownership on the Green Lanes project, grasped the opportunities it has offered and how she has, as a result, developed in both confidence and ability – a great example to other potential apprenticeship candidates. Well done!

Arina Smolina, Trainee Architect (degree apprenticeship)
With over three and a half years at Ryder as an apprentice, I have immersed myself in the dynamic world of architecture, dedicating two years to a significant mixed use project in London. Engaging with diverse clients and consultants, I have delved into multiple design stages and projects of different scales, gaining a holistic industry perspective. As I near completion of my masters degree and embarking on Part 3 studies this September, I reflect on the transformative journey from an inexperienced Part 1 to a more confident individual I am becoming. The apprenticeship at Ryder has not only built my career but uncovered passions through the synergy of practical experience and academic collaboration.

Mark Carter, Partner
The apprenticeship route creates value and brings huge benefit to both the student and the practice. Having regular tripartite reviews between the student, university and practice mentor enables coordination of the course curriculum and live project work in the office. The knowledge and learning can be shared in both directions. There is also opportunity to create research projects using live information. The continuity of availability of the student enables learning over a longer period and over more stages of design.

David McMahon, Director
The apprenticeship route offers significant benefits to both the apprentice and the employer. The process requires greater communication and careful planning of workload to ensure that the apprentice can develop necessary skills aligned with their career ambitions whiles also contributing to project milestones. Arina is in her third year at Oxford Brookes University and has been a fantastic asset to the team. She has been supporting on projects across RIBA stages and scales including a significant residential development in Wembley delivering close to a 1,000 homes, associated light industrial and resident amenity space. There has been synergy between practice projects and Arina’s university projects. In particular, where she has been focusing on the rejuvenation and masterplanning of significant sites including Old Oak Common in West London, and the benefits of co located uses such as new homes along with industrial and commercial uses. The approach has been mutually beneficial with Arina feeding her research back into the practice whilst internal design and peer reviews and access to clients has benefited the direction of the project.

Annabelle Blyton, Architect (PlanBEE mentor)
It has been great to welcome PlanBEE apprentices to the London office since September. We have now seen apprentices through their first placement with us and the benefits of this apprenticeship scheme to both the individual and Ryder as a practice are very apparent. The programme offers those with a keen interest in the built environment an opportunity to develop key skills as they become active members of Ryder, working on live projects and contributing to our ethos of Everything architecture. Therefore, my role as a PlanBEE mentor, supporting their learning and development, has been very rewarding.

Ronnie Graham, Partner
James Campbell’s three PlanBEE placements with Ryder set the scene for a great success story. From these placements, he has grown in confidence, taken ownership of technical tasks and actively engaged within the team and wider business. He is also a passionate advocate of PlanBEE, consistently promoting the benefits through a genuine enthusiasm.

On completion of PlanBEE and joining Ryder full time, James has leveraged his practical experience to shape career decisions, seeking insights from colleagues on further apprenticeship programmes which has led him to pursue a day release architectural technology degree at Leeds Beckett University. James embodies the success of an apprenticeship programme and has successfully turned his PlanBEE learning into a knowledge asset, making practical connections between university assignments and his role at Ryder. He continues to actively involve the team for advice and valuable learning insights, and we look forward to help his shape his career at Ryder.