Meet the Apprentice – Luke Bell

Meet the Apprentice – Luke Bell

Aged 17 from Hartlepool, Luke is a management trainee at Seymour Civil Engineering.

Tell us what you do

I started my apprenticeship with Seymour in September 2017, alongside studying at Hartlepool College of Further Education

My title is Management Trainee, and the set-up of the apprenticeship allows me to get a taster of all the different areas of Seymour, from the yards and project sites, to the offices.

I had looked at apprenticeships with other companies, but most of them offered more manual approaches and I wanted both the academic knowledge as well as getting to put my new knowledge into practice.

As I wasn’t sure exactly what area I wanted to do I was drawn to the idea of gaining experience in all departments at Seymour, so that I could actually try everything and figure out what worked best for me.


And what qualification will your Apprenticeship give you

I am working towards a BTEC Level 3 in Construction and the Built Environment, but already I have ambitions to go on to gain further qualifications once I’m done. The next step would be a HND, or even a BEng degree.

Seymour has talked to us about continuing studying up to degree level if it is what is right for me. They financially support their apprentices who want to continue to study and are incredibly encouraging. I really feel like they’re investing in me and my future.


Why was an apprenticeship the right choice for you?

I knew I wanted to go into civil engineering but I wasn’t 100% sure what area exactly. My apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to explore all the different avenues and get a taster of working within them. It’s been a real eye opener to all the opportunities available to me, half of the roles at Seymour I hadn’t even heard about or considered until I started my apprenticeship.

I first found out about working with Seymour when they visited my secondary school to talk about their apprenticeship scheme. They highlighted the benefits of earning whilst you learn, getting valuable work experience which helps with getting on the career ladder.

I could relate to this as I like to get stuck in and who doesn’t like getting paid at the end of the month? I wouldn’t be happy if I was stuck in the classroom not getting any hands-on experience.

Six months in I’m really happy that I chose an apprenticeship and I’m doing really well. The College recognised that I have been doing well and I was awarded student of the month for November across all the construction classes.


What did your friends and family say about your apprenticeship?

A lot of my friends went along the A level route, and it’s not uncommon to hear people say that apprenticeships are for those who didn’t do well at school and didn’t get high enough grades for A-levels.

I did really well in my GCSE’s and did consider the A-level route, which would have probably led on to me going to University, but when I found out more about apprenticeships they seemed to suit me a lot more. Just because I’ve chosen an apprenticeship route, it hasn’t closed any doors in terms of going on to get a degree, if anything it’s made it even more accessible.

My Mum is also quite happy that I’m earning for myself now!


How do you enjoy being in the workplace and learning at the same time?

We spend three days in college and two days at work which gives us a really good work college balance. It’s really useful to be able to take what you have learnt in the classroom and put it in to practice in the work environment, surrounded by experienced co-workers who can help. It’s given me a lot of self-confidence, knowing I have a theoretical understanding of everything that I’m doing at work.

It’s been obvious since I started at Seymour that not everything can be learnt in the classroom. Getting stuck in is the best way to learn. It has also helped me build my confidence and I know that my communication skills have already improved from when I started. Life skills like that are equally important to practical skills in the workplace and the younger you start practicing, the better you’ll become.


What are the best and worst bits of your job?

I wouldn’t say I had any worst bits. There have been areas I’ve enjoyed more than others but that’s the beauty of the apprenticeship set up at Seymour, I can try everything before I decide what I want to specialise in.

When I do make my decision, I will have experience in that department and will be familiar with the teams and the way everything works. That makes things a lot less daunting, and when you feel comfortable and confident in what you’re doing, you thrive.


What are your career plans?

At the moment I’m still not sure what area of the business I want to go in to, as I still have so many areas yet to experience.

What I do like is that the Seymour apprenticeship is focussed heavily on a future career with the company, rather than just on working within one specific role.

It’s really reassuring to know that through my apprenticeship I have secured a promising future for myself and that I won’t have that feeling of panic about what I’m going to do when I leave college.


What would you say to someone else thinking about whether an apprenticeship might work for them?

Find out as much information as you can about what area might be good for you and what opportunities there are in that area. I was lucky that Seymour came in to my school and talked to me, but not all young people will be as fortunate.

Hartlepool College of Further Education is a big provider of apprenticeships in the North East and they’re constantly running events to give people the opportunity to find out more about the opportunities available to them.

A team from Seymour are attending the College’s big apprenticeship event this Thursday, where a mixture of senior team members and former apprentices will be there to answer questions and give advice.