Lauryn Elliott is a Kier Highways apprentice civil engineer. Here, she talks about her journey into an apprenticeship, her concerns about joining a male-dominated industry and her future goals.  

“I joined the Kier Highways Area 9 Structures Team as an apprentice civil engineer in 2018. Kier provided the perfect platform for me to start my career in as I knew I would learn a lot and it would open doors for me to progress.

I’d always considered an apprenticeship as a career option and to get into engineering I felt it would be better to do than to continue education at school or college. Engineering is a hands-on job and doing an apprenticeship gives you the chance to understand and study the course in a more practical way. Whilst I did have knowledge of apprenticeships, doing one has exceeded all my expectations. At Kier, apprentices are valuable members of the team that have a genuine input and important role on projects, we’re given a lot of responsibility and guidance on how to successfully deliver this.

I was hesitant about joining such a male-dominated industry. However, I realised that if I don’t step out of my comfort zone and face challenges, then how would I ever progress as a person and in my career? Since joining Kier all of my colleagues have been very welcoming, and they don’t treat me differently to the men doing the same course. At the end of the day, we’re all there to do a job and as long as you’re doing that job well it shouldn’t matter if you’re male or female.

With regards to my overall experience at Kier, I have been very impressed by everyone’s attitude towards women in the workplace, the colleagues I have treat everyone as equals. Encouraging this attitude and true diversity is something that is promoted from the top and I really believe senior members of Kier, male and female, believe in advocating this. It is very positive to be part of a big company that champions women in the industry.

As part of its engagement and encouragement for females working in the built environment, this year for International Women’s Day Kier is holding a ‘Connecting with our Future Female Leaders’ event. This is an opportunity for female apprentices to meet with female leaders and go on to present to the three senior Kier leaders; Phil Cox, Bev Dew and Claudio Veritiero to have an open discussion about apprenticeships and females in the industry.

This event is an opportunity to have a voice and discuss the issues and difficulties women have in the industry, if we all sit together and discuss our concerns, we have a better chance of addressing and fixing any issues we have. On a personal level, I think this event will be really positive for my growth, as well as presenting to the three most senior positions, we’re also able to sit and talk with three senior females at Kier, to understand their career journey and any difficulties they have faced.

Doing my apprenticeship has given me a lot more confidence in myself and my abilities, for the first time I am keen to do a degree to allow me to reach more senior positions. I have learnt so much about my work & myself and it has opened so many doors for me. I am really grateful for this opportunity and would encourage everyone to do an apprenticeship as it can take you on a path you didn’t expect to go on.”