Parin Pathani is a trainee quantity surveyor working for Kier on the A13 Road Widening Project in Essex. Here, Parin tells us how she’s been able to study towards a university degree qualification while gaining invaluable work experience, and without incurring any student debt…

 “As I approached the end of my time at sixth form, I knew university wasn’t the route for me. However, I was unsure about what career path I wanted to pursue. Instead, I decided to look and apply for apprenticeships, which weren’t discussed lots during sixth form and quantity surveying took an interest to me. I wanted earn money while learning and gain experience without ending up with student debt that could take years to clear.

“I joined the Kier degree programme, which would enable me to work towards becoming a qualified quantity surveyor, while gaining on site experience at the same time and a degree at the end of the programme.

“A QS, as they are more commonly known, works on construction projects and is responsible for the contractual and financial side of a project – making sure that we get paid by our clients, ensuring that the sub-contractors working for us get paid for the value of the work that they’ve done on our behalf, forecasting, cost control and managing risk.

“The apprenticeship is delivered in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University. I spend most of my time working on site and go to university for one week every three months, with assignments due shortly after that.

“Everyone else on the course is also undertaking their apprenticeship on a variety of different projects at Kier, so it’s a really nice way to meet others and start to build links within our business.

“Some people think that doing an apprenticeship means you will have basic responsibilities, but that is not the case. When I joined Kier as part of the Infrastructure business, my first project was at Hinkley Point C - a nuclear power station - which was three hours away, so I was able to experience living away from home for the first time too as well as being part of a massive project.

“Since then, I’ve moved onto the A13 Road Widening Project in Essex and as my level of experience grows, I’ve learnt so much and have been given more responsibility which includes managing several sub-contractors, calculating the price of change and liaising with our client too. This has made me realise that as an apprentice, we have a valuable role within the team and are important when it comes to the successful delivery of a project.

“So far, I’ve achieved my Level 4 Certificate of Higher Education which took two years to complete. The final three years of my apprenticeship will involve me working to attain my BSc (Hons) in Construction Quantity Surveying Practice.

“By the time I’ve completed my studies, it will have taken me a total of five years to have got my degree, two years longer than if I had studied at university full time. However, the big advantage is that Kier is paying for my studies, while I’m gaining real on-the-job experience and being paid for it too. It’s a great way of achieving a degree qualification and not having to take a single penny in student loans!

“I strongly believe that doing an apprenticeship – the combination of work and studying - is a great way of starting your professional career. It will open so many doors for me and has given me a solid career path for the future.  I would recommend it to anyone who may not be considering going to university and is looking to get qualified but doesn’t want to be saddled with student debt.”

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