Alfie Leeson, cost management apprentice at Turner & Townsend, reveals why he’s relishing the opportunity to study while gaining hands-on work experience
What attracted you to the degree apprenticeship route?
I’ve always wanted to work in construction – partly because I had a family link, which meant I saw first-hand the tangible impact that the sector has on how we live.
At school, I was also business-minded and wanted to build on the commercial skills that I had learnt in my part-time retail jobs. I wanted to find a role that would allow me to combine these two interests, which drew me to cost consultancy.
I knew I’d need the right qualifications to pursue a career at the level I was looking for, but university didn’t particularly appeal to me – I wanted to jump straight into the working world.
This is what led me to the degree apprenticeship option. To be able to get the right experience, while earning a salary and working towards a degree-level qualification, was a no-brainer for me.
What skills and experience have you gained so far?
I’m given a lot of opportunities to learn and develop. The scheme works on a rotational basis, so I spend several months with different teams to develop varying competencies.
As I’ve progressed and built in confidence and ability, I’ve been given more responsibility to lead pieces of work.
You can see big projects being built as an outsider, but it’s not until you’re witnessing the construction of them first hand that the enormity of these programmes, and the impact they have on communities, really hits you
So far, my experience has been predominantly in the cost management of infrastructure programmes, which in itself is very varied.
However, I’m also learning a lot from my peers on the apprenticeship. The ability to collaborate and learn from their experience is really valuable for my development as a construction professional.
Are there any interesting projects you have worked on or achievements that you are particularly proud of?
Over the past three and a half years, I have worked with fascinating clients. I’ve been involved with Network Rail on the Great Western Electrification Programme, which electrifies the route between London and Cardiff and improves the service for the millions of passengers who use the network.
I have also been working with Welsh Water on the AMP7 Capital Delivery Programme, updating and improving the country’s water infrastructure. Water networks play such a crucial role in how we all live. My work in the sector is something I’m really proud of.
However, above all of this, I’m most proud of the strong professional network I have been able to build throughout my apprenticeship so far.
What has surprised you most about working in the built environment sector?
It has to be the sheer scale of the projects in the industry. You can see big projects being built as an outsider, but it’s not until you’re witnessing the construction of them first hand that the enormity of these programmes, and the impact they have on communities, really hits you.
It’s more than I ever imagined and I feel genuinely privileged to be part of it.
What are your long-term career goals?
Going forward, I hope to continue working in cost management, particularly looking at post-contract, which was a rotation I found deeply engaging and enjoyable. Beyond this, I’m keen to keep being challenged in my role and building my widening skillset.