5th February 2024

National Apprenticeship Week – Apprenticeships for All

For the first day of National Apprenticeship Week, we sat down with two of our current apprentices, Reece Johnson (l) and Riley Norman (r), to get an insight into their journey and find out how their apprenticeships have benefited them.

Q: Can you describe your experience with the apprenticeship scheme so far?

Reece: Riley and I began the Level 6 Civil Engineering Degree Apprenticeship with Perega in October 2023. In my first year of the five-year scheme, the apprenticeship program has provided me with a unique blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application that I wouldn’t have gained going straight to university.

Attending the University of East London (UEL) one day a week has enabled me to delve into the theoretical aspects of civil engineering, which complement the real-world scenarios I come across in my day-to-day work at Perega.

Q: What are you currently working on at Perega?

Riley: Right now, I’m working on a project at a leisure centre in Bromley, Kent, involving flumes that have been supported by beams. My focus is on analysing defects, assessing the corrosion, and making recommendations for remediation. Recently, a senior engineer and I conducted a site visit, and I marked each cable on a drawing, gearing up for the recommendations phase.

Projects at Perega operate at a rapid pace and are heavily deadline-driven. The scope of a project can change every week, so you’re always working in a lively environment.

Q: How much time is dedicated to ‘off-the-job training’ in your apprenticeship?

Reece: We are allocated one day per week of off-the-job training, ensuring we meet the required 20% for our course. The great thing is there’s a good level of flexibility timewise, and the team is considerate of my university deadlines and project requirements, making the juggling act much smoother. Over the student year, we get a total of five extra ‘study’ days to cover upcoming university deadlines.

Q: Can you share your journey of how you arrived at your current position at Perega?

Riley: My journey began with an internship at Perega, where I got an in-person feel for what engineers do. It was a real eye-opener. Post-internship, my college course leader guided me through the process of researching civil engineering degree apprenticeships. Following this I went through an interview process.

Q: At what point did you realise that pursuing this apprenticeship was your path? Did you consider this career when choosing your A-levels?

Riley: Back in school, I chose to go down the engineering route. The hands-on introduction I got in college workshops solidified my interest in the field, and it was when I started at Perega with the structural team that I knew, yeah, this is where I want to be.

Reece: It clicked for me when I was picking my A-level subjects. Physics and maths were my strong suits, and that naturally led me towards considering engineering.

Q: Can you provide a typical day in the life of an engineering apprentice?

Riley: A typical day might involve working in the office on various aspects of a project, often using specialised software in addition to working things out by hand. No two days are the same; flexibility is key and the work is often project-specific. If a senior engineer or team leader is around, I’ll have a chat with them about potential opportunities for the next project, absorbing as much of their knowledge and experience as possible.

Q: Of the work you’ve done so far, is there a particular project or accomplishment that you are most proud of? Or that you enjoyed the most?

Riley: A standout moment was working extensively on the recent influx of RAAC surveys, alongside the engineers. The importance of this work is not to be understated, as it’s a significant issue making headline news and causing huge disruptions. It’s rewarding to see our efforts having tangible, positive outcomes.

I guess that’s the difference between university and an apprenticeship; the direct impact we make and the real-world problems we tackle.  It’s the kind of perspective you might miss in a lecture hall.

Q: Do you have a mentor, and how has your mentor supported you throughout the apprenticeship process?

Reece: At Perega, every apprentice is paired up with a mentor. It’s been fantastic having Jake Parsell as my mentor right from the start. He’s been there to guide me and answer any questions or concerns. Plus, he’s been through the same apprenticeship route, so he understands the challenges.

Q: What has been the most surprising aspect of your apprenticeship experience?

Riley: The most surprising aspect has been the teamwork dynamic. At college, all your work is very solitary. But in the office everyone can bounce ideas off each other, creating a real sense of belonging to a team. I feel like a valued part of the wider group.

Q: Do you have an interest in pursuing chartered status eventually?

Reece: For sure! I started my degree at 23, and it just goes to show you can dive into an apprenticeship at any point. I’ll finish with a degree and a solid five years of hands-on experience, fast-tracking any time I might’ve missed out on. It’s a win-win.

Q: What advice would you offer someone contemplating an apprenticeship?

Riley: I highly recommend considering an apprenticeship. You get workplace experience while earning a degree, plus no student debt. I’ve already recommended it to friends and family. Just be ready for a bit of extra workload; it might be challenging, but the rewards are worth it, offering a whole lot more than the traditional education journey.

If you’re interested in our apprenticeship scheme, email