Environmental apprentices and graduates … their futures and ours
Young people are the future. But with so many problems and crises laying ahead, we are the present generation who must help them to understand, become skilled, and prepare for the environmental uncertainties they will face in their lifetime … as will the generations that follow.
Millie and Lewis both work at our Sheffield office. As their early careers develop, we will increasingly expect them – and their fellow young apprentices – to begin to teach us about how the future world with its worsening climate emergency is going to be shaped.
Give and take
That is why we are investing in young people. However, it is important to make a fundamental point here.
Apprentices are under no obligation to stay with us once their training periods are over. Rather, they are free to find the best opportunities for themselves. We do, of course, welcome some back as permanent professional colleagues.
Our role is to help develop the much-needed skills needed urgently for the national economy and environmental sector talent pool … and we urge other companies to do the same.
However, with February’s focus on young people’s skills – National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) 2023 themed as ‘Skills for Life’ is from 6th to 12th February – we thought it would be good to ask Millie and Lewis for a snapshot of their views, ambitions, and how they think we can help them further.
Enzygo – nationally and locally (www.enzygo.com)
Some context here might explain why skills in general are very important to us as a company.
Enzygo is a UK-wide environmental and planning consultancy. However, we are also part of the Enterprise Advise which, by connecting businesses and employers to Barnsley schools, helps young people and students to prepare for their futures through in-depth career education programmes.
A business perspective
Why do we do this? Two-thirds of our local businesses are worried about a future shortage of skilled people vital to the Yorkshire economy and national UK economy. The Enterprise Adviser Network was formed to build a local talent pipeline.
Our director Matt Travis is an Enterprise Adviser volunteer keen to help create pathways into industry, and bridging the gap between the world of work and education.
Crucially, advisors give an employer’s perspective to schools and colleges on embedding employment market information and opportunities into career programmes. On the flip side, they also encourage local businesses to provide a range of career-related opportunities.
Meet Lewis and Millie – and hear what they say below
In the conversations below, Graduate Hydrology Consultant Millie Croft and Apprentice Civil Engineering Technician Lewis Whitworth explain their reasons for starting environmental careers at Enzygo, what this has taught them so far, and their hopes for the future.
Both also have a clear view of how their chosen careers relate to global environmental emergence and climate change. They also offer advice to other young people considering similar career paths.
Lewis Whitworth (joined Enzygo in September 2021):
– Where do you see career taking you in the future?
“My priority at the moment is to get my qualifications by completing my apprenticeship. Then I can review my options. I could stay with Enzygo. But I would also be free to work elsewhere. My new skills will give me choices and I want to put them to the best use.”
– Can you give environmentally-related examples of your work at Enzygo?
“I mostly create technical drawings for Enzygo’s different teams with software like BricsCAD and QGIS. I recently worked with the hydrology and drainage team and will soon be learning to use new software to size basins that collect storm water and calculate drainage system water flows.”
– What advice you would give to other young people considering a similar career?
“I would say that to do a job similar to mine, make a point of finding out the exact purpose of your work. This will give you a better understanding of how your role works, and help you make your own decisions when working on future projects. It’s also much more interesting!”
– What advice you might give to other young people considering an Apprenticeship?
“Ask lots of questions. Make sure you research the apprenticeships you’re looking. If you end up with a job you don’t like, you won’t be motivated to do it well. Also make sure you not repeating the same work again and again. Learn new things at work to progress.”
– What qualities would you say competent Civil Engineers must have?
“I would say problem solving, plus good communication between the team and clients, and the ability to use a variety of software packages.”
– What are the biggest challenges Civil Engineers now face?
“Environmental! Businesses are encouraged to minimise their impact on the environment more and more. A big challenge is coming up with sustainable solutions for clients.
“For example, a construction company wants to fit as many houses as possible on a site. Civil engineers ideally want the development to be completed with minimal impact on the environment.
“This means planting trees to replace all those removed, and using space on site for basins to collect water and prevent flooding when permeable ground is replaced with concrete.
“These are major issues for engineers because solutions can conflict with a developer’s best interests. Working as a team, we can design a compromise.”
Millie Croft (joined Enzygo in January 2022):
– Why did you choose an environmental career?
“Because with an environmental career I can build on the knowledge gained with my BSc Geography undergraduate degree. During my time at university, I applied this knowledge to real-life situations, which is something I am keen to continue. An environmental career aligned perfectly with this.
“The wide range of job roles available within an environmental career is also appealing. As someone who wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, this career path offers me a huge variety of potential job roles to choose from.”
– How have your ideas, knowledge and attitudes changed whilst at Enzygo?
“Once again, I am applying my undergraduate degree knowledge to real-life situations. However, working at Enzygo has made me more aware of specific environmental aspects, and particularly the potential impacts of new developments and how these can be mitigated.”
– Where do you see your environmental career going?
“I am currently applying for a master’s degree in Urban Planning because the planning aspect of Enzygo interests me most. I am hoping to study for my master’s course alongside work at Enzygo, so I am learning and gaining experience at the same time. This will boost me in progressing my career.”
“I am keen to pursue a planning career as I believe it is important in protecting the environment, for example by minimising the potential impacts of new developments. During my time at Enzygo, I want to continue developing my knowledge and experience as part of a planning career.”
– Can you summarise your thoughts on the world’s environmental crisis?
“Clearly, the climate crisis continues to worsen, putting the world at greater risk of more frequent hazards. To mitigate and reduce climate crisis impacts, people must be willing to make changes. It is evident that reducing carbon emissions is the long-term solution to reduce climate change impacts.
“Immediate action is needed to protect the planet. For example, introducing nature-based solutions will help to support and sustain vital aspects of the environment. Alongside this, new technologies, such as renewable energy schemes, must be introduced widely to develop a cleaner environment and reduce the global carbon footprint.
“I believe the world’s environmental crisis can be lessened if people are willing to act quickly.”
– Can you explain what your work at Enzygo involves?
“Yes, I am currently an Assistant Environmental Consultant. During my time here, I have had opportunities to work under a number of teams, including Hydrology, Landscape and Planning.
“I believe that working under these teams has given me valuable experience and understanding about how different disciplines work together, and how this results in the completion of projects.
“I have been on a number of visits to proposed development sites. These have been extremely useful in helping me to understanding the physical aspects and environmental conditions of a site. I have been able to put the knowledge gained into written reports.
“Currently, I am working with the planning team and am involved in writing reports such as Planning Statements and Site Appraisals which identify potential environmental impacts of proposed developments. Whilst writing these reports, I pull together findings from each team.
“Another aspect of my role at Enzygo is the submission of planning applications. This involves direct contact with Local Councils to oversee submitted applications, and request updates when necessary.
“Overall, during my time at Enzygo I have had opportunities to experience a variety of roles, which hopefully is good for the company, good for clients, and good for my future career.”
– What advice would you give to other young people considering a similar career?
“I would strongly recommend researching potential job roles, gaining work experience, and taking an environmentally-based course.
“Researching specific fields within the environmental sector is a good way to identify key areas of interest. Once this is done, look more closely into job roles and career paths. This will give young people an idea of the kind of environmental jobs available to them.
“Work experience will also help them to identify areas of interest. Gaining experience under a variety of teams/environmental disciplines is a further insight into the range of careers available.
“I would recommend completing an environmental-based course or degree to develop an understanding of key environmental issues and theory, which can then be transferred and built upon in a chosen environmental career path.”
Past, present and future successes
We have a good track record for helping students launch their careers.
As an example, our Landscape Consultant, Tito, has created an inspiring Career Video for year 10 and 11 students. In July 2022, two of our Hydrology team members also delivered a series of tasks and presentations to Year 10 pupils visiting our Sheffield Office in Fox Valley.
Two months later, Lewis, Millie, and another team member attended a Penistone Grammar School Careers event, spoke to various year groups, and provided information on what our business and service area can offer school leavers, plus areas of work on offer.
In October 2022, our Senior Drainage Engineer visited Netherwood Academy to provide advice in a mock interview format for Year 10 students. A month later in November, our Principal Hydrologist visited Penistone School to provide similar support for Year 10 students.
Our engagement programme continues.
Chloe Armitage joined the administrative team at Enzygo in December 2018, whilst studying Level 2 and 3 Business Administration NVQ at The Source Academy. She went on to leave Enzygo in April 2022, in order to expand her business administration experience.
We should also mention Charlie Hague – Barnsley College Apprentice of the Year in June 2019 – who developed his career further with Enzygo before leaving for pastures new.
Similarly, Lucy Cowley – Administrative Apprentice – who joined Enzygo in 2017 before completing her Business Admin Level 3 NVQ, and moving on to expand her career experience in December 2019.
And Placement Students
Charlotte Whitham joined us as a Coventry University student placement from July 2018 to August 2019, and returned in March 2021 as a Hydrology Consultant.
Helena Du-Roe joined Enzygo in May 2016 as an undergraduate placement from Chester University, returning as an Environmental Consultant in July 2017. Helena has now been promoted to Senior Environmental Consultant.
Matt Travis, Company Director, Enzygo Ltd
See the LinkedIn article – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/environmental-apprentices-graduates-futures-ours-enzygo-limited-1e/