I’m currently employed as a UK Health and Safety advisor for WSP’s Transport and Infrastructure business. My job currently involves accident and incident investigation, ensuring business compliance, auditing and delivering training.
What made you decide to study a BTEC?
I chose to do a BTEC because I didn’t want to follow traditional routes as I didn’t think they suited me. I couldn’t afford to go to university without a student loan looming over me, and degree apprenticeships weren’t really a thing then.
I worked full time whilst I did my BTEC course, meaning I got the training, wage, and experience. I learnt valuable skills through employment such as good communication, presentation skills, and time management, which all helped me to develop as an individual. When I finished my HNC, I had four years’ experience through work, four years of useful classroom courses that applied directly to my job, and no debt, whilst my peers were coming out of university with debt and no job.
My husband was incredibly supportive of me and knew that the course would suit me. Had it not been for his support early on, I may not have had the confidence to go down this route. At the time, a lot of people thought I was making the wrong decision by going down this route, but I’ve since shown how alternative routes to employment can be successful and that it’s a really good option for vocational subjects.
Through doing my BTEC, I’ve won various awards. I was awarded a scholarship through my professional body and I’ve had the opportunity to give assemblies, presentations, and seminars to numerous organisations.
My tutors at Leeds College of Building were amazing, and I’ll be forever grateful for everything they did for me there, especially my Civils tutor Barry Falconer. He went above and beyond to help support me through college and through my apprenticeship. When I had bad days, he’d lift me up and let me know I was doing well. I’ve always made it my mission to do the same for the next generation; WSP are incredibly supportive of my work and they even offer volunteering days so that I’m able to take paid time off to support these initiatives. Every success I’ve had is because of the support I received from someone already in the industry.
For me, a BTEC was one of the best ways to learn. You learn real-life applicable skills that can help you become more employable, more experienced, and better equipped for when you do go on to find a job.
How can BTECs help address the UK skills shortage?
Currently in the construction industry, we have a big skills shortage. We need talent, and lots of it. For me, it shouldn’t matter what gender you are or what background you come from; if you’re willing to work, put the effort in, and are talented in your field, then we want you! Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with has treated me with respect and as an equal to them, regardless of gender. I’ve had both female and male managers and worked with an array of people from all over the world, and I’ve never come across any of the stereotypes that the media portrays.