Women in construction are a minority, making up around 14 per cent of construction industry professionals. However, Kimberly is leading the way for women in construction through an apprenticeship with Transport for London (TfL). After completing her Level 3 in 2016, she is now a Level 6 Chartered Surveyor Degree Apprentice and is responsible for the commercial management of TfL projects. Four years into her apprenticeship as Quantity Surveying Apprentice, Kim looks back at her experiences and hopes to inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
Leaving school and choosing a TFL apprenticeship
At the time of applying for an apprenticeship, my school was going through major refurbishment work and I was fascinated by the construction industry's ability to change spaces to meets people's needs - it was this social responsibility aspect that really caught my eye.
I grew up in London, so I was familiar with TfL, with its services forming a key part of my day-to-day life. When I came to look at apprenticeship opportunities, the more I read about the organisation online and went through the apprenticeship application, the more I wanted to work for them.
Although apprenticeships can often be a back-up option for students leaving school, I personally saw it as a fast-track into surveying. My family were supportive - had they not have been, I probably wouldn't of have had the courage to go down the apprenticeship route because all my friends were going to university.
Why an Apprenticeship?
Whenever anyone asks me what are the benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship, I kind of think what aren't the benefits?
Aside from the most obvious ones, such as earning whilst you learn and no debt, I think the biggest positive for me has been working alongside such brilliant colleagues, who have become my role models, especially as you undertake placements in lots of different teams. It also gives you the opportunity to network, which has helped me find brilliant mentors. Having a network that provides you with a community of support is something an apprenticeship has provided me – this is something I don't think you can put a price on.
When I started my apprenticeship, I was nervous because TfL is a huge organisation. However, from day one, I have never felt alone. I have had 360° support from my team - they have helped develop towards my ambitions and supported me through my entire apprenticeship. I've always taken pride in the work that I have done, and it has been fantastic to manage high-value projects from such an early point in my career.
Recently, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) awarded me The Apprentice of the Year title and this has opened opportunities for me to inspire future generations. I feel like I joined the construction industry at a pivotal moment, which has made me so incredibly passionate and pleased that I chose not to not follow the crowd and instead do what was best for me.
Girls Can Too: Advice to school leavers
Although the numbers of women in construction aren't as high as they should be, the figures are growing every day. I joined the industry at an exciting time because diversity is now on the agenda. Companies like TfL are working hard to make their workforces more inclusive. Both men and women are actively embracing and celebrating the work women do.
For young women leaving school, my main piece of advice would be stay open to all options and take responsibility for your career. I had the choice of going to university to do a Maths degree, but, by being open-minded, I found a fantastic alternative. My career has progressed at a rate that is incredible, and many would have assumed not possible with an apprenticeship.
I've seen young women who are nervous to take steps into the unknown, but don't be scared to explore the unfamiliar. It will unlock your potential.
The National Apprenticeship Service
The National Apprenticeship Service supports the delivery of apprenticeships in England, offering free, impartial advice and support to employers looking to recruit for the first time or expand their apprenticeship workforce. Interested in finding out more about employing apprentices? Complete the online enquiry form on GOV.UK or call the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600.
Get in Go Far: Looking for an apprenticeship?
If you're keen to hit the ground running and are ready to start your apprenticeship straight away, there are tens of thousands of live vacancies listed on the Find An Apprenticeship site from employers across a range of industries. Simply Google 'Find an Apprenticeship' to search through the vacancies in your area and chosen line of work.
Receiving your results this August?
The Exam Results Helpline is an official service especially set up by the National Career Service for those who have received their results and want to talk through their options. When you call, the Helpline's careers advisers will chat through your situation and work with you to develop a plan. The Exam Results Helpline is a free service and will be open 8am – 10pm, 7 days a week. It can be reached on 0800 100 900.