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Tideway to create over 100 apprenticeships during super sewer build

Tideway is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week as it reiterates its commitment to create more than 100 apprenticeships during the build of London’s new super sewer, a major infrastructure project which will tackle sewage pollution in the River Thames.

Currently, 49 of Tideway’s 1,700-strong workforce is already an apprentice. With the total number of jobs on the project expected to grow to 4,000 in the next 12 months - with one in every 50 an apprenticeship - there will be many more. In addition, around 25 per cent of employees will live in the boroughs where the work sites are located.

Scott Young, Head of Skills and Employment at Tideway, said: “With the UK predicted to need 182,000 new engineers by 2022, the skills gap in the engineering and construction industry is clear.

“We aim to help address this issue by inspiring and training the next generation of engineers, supervisors, operatives, and river workers, for both current and future projects.

“Along with our contractors, we offer a number of apprenticeship opportunities across a range of functions including business, civil engineering, the trades, surveying, and as marine operatives. This year we will start to recruit project management apprentices.

“We’ve made good progress with 49 apprentices currently employed, 92 per cent of whom are on advanced or higher level apprentices, and with 87 apprenticeship opportunities offered to date.”

For Ray Cantwell, a graduate apprentice taking on the role as a site engineer at Tideway, it is the ideal situation.

Ray is on the verge of becoming a qualified Civil Engineer, and works within one of Tideway’s project management team. He is in his third year of a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at Kingston University and is set to graduate in mid-2019.

Ray said: “At the age of 16 I finished school with no idea what I wanted to do. I spent the summer looking at my options and started to look at what other skills I had. I realised I was good at maths and sciences.

“I went to a career show and told them what I was interested in and asked what I should go for and that’s where I first found out about civil engineering. I’m a bit more practical and initially I didn’t know that meant I could be out working on a site.”

While balancing study and full time work, he says being able to apply what he learns at university in a practical way keeps him motivated, which is one of the core benefits of taking up an apprenticeship.

Ray is sponsored throughout, meaning he is reimbursed an agreed percentage of his study costs if he meets his grades.

“I’ve basically eliminated concerns about debt. By the time I’m done, I’ll be a fully qualified engineer with eight or nine years’ experience which is unheard of at my age. It’s the ideal situation.
“Some people are still paying their student loan off when they’re fifty, the fact that I’m not going to have that is huge.”

The coming year is one of the biggest production years for the project yet, with tunnelling set to start later this year.