Tracey Collins

Tracey Collins

Apprenticeships are breaking down barriers and making the construction industry a better place to work.

At Kier, we love apprenticeships. They’re a fantastic way for you to kickstart your career within construction, no matter your background or level of education – or they’re even a great way to progress an existing career too!

Our director of emerging talent and inclusion, Tracey Collins, shares more about what an apprenticeship is, the benefits, and how you can get involved.

One of the things we’re passionate about at Kier, is that a career within construction should be available to everyone. We know that as a Tier 1 contractor, we have a loud voice within the industry and need to be leading by example to create a more diverse and inclusive place to work. One way in which to do this is to inspire the next generation of construction professionals into the industry, offering as many routes of entry as possible and showing our new and future colleagues that there is a home for them here.

At Kier, our emerging talent programmes include graduate schemes, Level 2 – 3 apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships and T-levels, each with their own requirements to suit candidates from all backgrounds and levels of experience. This week marks National Apprenticeship Week in England and Wales, and we currently have over 60 apprenticeship roles open for applications, making this the perfect opportunity to shout about our fantastic programmes – something our director of emerging talent and inclusion, Tracey Collins is incredibly passionate about.

“Of course, I love all of our emerging talent programmes, but I do have a soft spot for our apprenticeships,” Tracey admits. “I’ve seen first-hand the benefits that an apprenticeship can bring, particularly degree apprenticeships which allow you to gain a degree whilst earning a salary, and without incurring a single penny of student debt!” she adds.

Leaving school can be incredibly daunting, and the university dilemma is something Tracey faced herself. She decided to not immediately follow her peers who were busy packing their bags to move to university, but instead decided to take a gap year to figure out where her passions lay. She found a role within the learning and development (L&D) team of a leisure centre chain, but in 12 months she needed to decide again. “I found by that point I was already working at a higher level than the graduates who were joining the organisation fresh from university, so I thought ‘is a degree really going to be the right route for me?’” Tracey explained. In the end, she decided to stay and has never looked back.

“Traditional education always felt like the only option, but it really shouldn’t be. There are some people who suit that route, my daughter for example has always dreamt of attending university and she’s having a fantastic time, but it’s not the only way to get into your career, and if you want to leave school at 16, an apprenticeship is the only way you can do that now,” Tracey says.

“I’m not here to tell you that one route is better than the other and I would always encourage university if you think you’ll get a lot out of it, like the skills you pick up because you’re living away from home or the career you want doesn’t offer an apprenticeship route, however, it’s worth considering if a degree apprenticeship could be a great alternative to earn the exact same qualification that will be completely paid for by your employer,” Tracey explains.

Apprenticeships at Kier range from Level 2 to Level 7, but you don’t always need to start at Level 2. Certain roles might require you to start at a more junior level because you need to learn the basics before you can become fully qualified in those fields, but we have a wide range of roles that start higher, and existing employees can enrol onto an apprenticeship of any level to progress their career.

“Something else I’m keen to dispel the rumours on is that an apprenticeship is only for school leavers because they absolutely aren’t!” Tracey says. “They’re a great way to either enter a completely new career or to progress your skills to support you in your current role,” she adds. At Kier, over 646 of our employees are enrolled onto an apprenticeship programme and half of them are existing employees who are expanding their skill set. “Our apprenticeships aren’t limited to only the roles we hire for,” Tracey explains. “On our website you’ll see that we tend to hire for qualifications such as business administration, civil engineering, quantity surveying etc, but if you were say, a BIM coordinator, and you wanted to do a Level 4 apprenticeship that would support your role, we can look into that – the opportunities could be endless!” she explains.

Tracey is also incredibly passionate about the opportunities the construction industry specifically offers employees. “Construction is one of those industries which is always going to be in demand. There’s always going to be new infrastructure that needs to be built or old ones that need to be maintained, and you don’t even need to be a site professional to be a part of that excitement,” she says. “Everybody at Kier, from on-site to back-office, plays a key role in delivering vital infrastructure to the UK and I’m sure everyone across the business gets the same sense of pride I do when I notice our logo on the side of hoardings, working on a project that is improving the local community – even though I might’ve never even stepped foot on that particular site!” Tracey beams.

“That’s why I think if you get the opportunity to gain an insight into the industry, whether that’s through work experience or attending events like Open Doors, you should absolutely take them, because you’ll see that the construction industry is more than the manual and muddy stereotype that I’m keen to break down!” Tracey adds.

We currently have 60+ apprenticeships open for applications, hiring for highways maintenance operatives, trainee quantity surveyors, trainee site managers, business administrators, telecoms operatives and more. Make sure you look at our vacancies, and if you have any questions, email

Thank you, Tracey, for taking the time to share your passion for apprenticeships this National Apprenticeship Week. Over on our socials, you’ll find day in the life videos, stories and advice from our apprentices, giving you the opportunity to learn more about the construction industry and what an apprenticeship at Kier could look like for you, so make sure you give us a follow so you don’t miss out.

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