Bob and I, along with our twin daughters, Louise and Chantelle, were delighted to host the WCCA 2019-20 Masters’ Reception ‘The Apprentice!’ at Trinity House.

 

The Architecture Apprenticeship was launched by RIBA last year, with only 4 schools of architecture and 70 students participating at the outset. So, the theme of my year as Master is Architecture Apprenticeships and I was delighted when WCCA members from Assael Architecture, Foster +Partners and Scott Brownrigg kindly agreed to support four events focusing on Apprenticeships over the next 12 months.  The first event, ‘The Apprentice!’ took place on Monday 21stOctober 2019 and the programme is set out below:

 

  • 12.30 Drinks reception
  • 13.00 Buffet lunch
  • 13.30 Chaired Q&A session with a panel of five young apprentices. During this session we aimed to tease out the advantages/disadvantages of Apprenticeships and what WCCA Company members can do to help. The panel of Apprentices was drawn from Assael Architecture; Foster + Partners and Scott Brownrigg and the experiences of these three were complemented by the experiences of two Apprentices undertaking traditional/established apprenticeships in Trinity House & in Swan Housing.
  • 14.15 -15.00 City Guide short tours of Trinity House – celebrating Trafalgar Day

 

The ornate domed ceiling above the stairwell

The ornate domed ceiling above the stairwell

Members tour Trinity House Court room

Members tour Trinity House Court room

embers admiring a painting of the 1794 Trinity House Elder Brethren, by Gainsborough Dupont

embers admiring a painting of the 1794 Trinity House Elder Brethren, by Gainsborough Dupont

 

It was wonderful to see our Apprentices not only contributing to the discussion groups, but also leading them, during the Architectural Apprentices Workshop, and it was really helpful to listen to their experiences ‘first hand’ and get to grips with some of the issues that need further support and development.

 

We received some excellent feedback from participants:

 

From an Apprentice:

‘Thank you so much for inviting myself and Jo to your workshop on Monday. It was a great opportunity to raise more awareness of this alternative route and to discuss important issues regarding securing future of the apprenticeship. I would love to get involved with the National Apprentice Awards and look forward to hearing what this entails. Very much looking forward to the digital networking event in April, too – sounds like an exciting idea!’

 

From an Employer:

‘Thank you so much on behalf of us both, for yesterday’s reception. It was wonderful to visit Trinity House and hear the history of Eddystone lighthouse, in particular. I’m now dropping you a line as we are recruiting at the moment and, as a top-heavy practice, were looking for someone at Part one or two level. The idea of an apprentice would appear ideal, but I have no idea how to set about this………..As a seasoned Part 3 examiner, i am aware that smaller practices provide much better experience than the larger practices, so feel we could contribute considerably.  Could you point me in the right direction with a view to taking this further?

 

From a University:

‘I wanted to thank you for the Apprenticeship event at Trinity House. This event was really useful in order to push our University to implement the Apprenticeship route into our Architecture courses from 2020/21. I have since spoken to a series of employers, who are all keen to take on architecture apprentices.’.

 

The Master & Foster + Partners Apprentices Kudzai Chirimuuta and Bola Agiri

The Master & Swan Housing Apprentices Oliver Anthony and William Newbold

The Master & Swan Housing Apprentices Oliver Anthony and William Newbold

Trinity House

Trinity House

Trinity House

Trinity House

As far as I am aware, this was the first ever event to have taken place which focused on Architectural Apprenticeships. Our aim was to understand how employers and schools of architecture can best help embed them in the profession. I have captured the key ideas generated, below and am pleased that some of the ideas relating to the Company of Architects are already in train:

  • We are collaborating with RIBA and expect to celebrate the first National Apprentice Awards in 2020.

 

  • We are also developing a digital networking platform for apprentices, employers and universities which will be launched on Stephen Lawrence Day, 22nd April 2020, and I would be delighted if you would like to come along to this event

 

  • Apprentices can become student members of the company, which brings a whole host of benefits and opportunities, including mentoring, bursaries and awards; it would be a privilege to welcome some apprentices!

 

 

FEEDBACK FROM THE WORK GROUPS:

 

EDDYSTONE LIGHTHOUSE

Q: What are the barriers to entering the architectural profession and how can they be overcome?

  • Gender barriers from wider society impact Architectural as well but are magnified as the length of training is likely to cross over life changing periods! (Maternity)
  • The cost of training and the period on ‘low wages’ remains an issue.
  • Need to promote flexible options for both training and employment.

 

NEEDLES LIGHTHOUSE

Q: It takes a long time to train an apprentice. How can employers guarantee employment and training continuity, despite changes in workload or market failure?

  • Develop their broader skills so they can add value in other disciplines of your business
  • Help larger and smaller practices to share talent pipeline and offer different experiences
  • Work collaboratively/share resources with businesses in other allied professions

 

LONGSTONE LIGHTHOUSE

Q: Apprentices are not in university or FE College cohorts. How can employers, universities and others tackle the isolation often felt by apprentices

  • Create a mentor programme in house
  • Create a link between current and previous trainees as an alumni group.
  • Offer Employment Assistance Programme services to apprentices re health & wellbeing
  • Promote the Architects Benevolent fund more

 

ROYAL SOVEREIGN LIGHTHOUSE 

Q: How can we make the architectural profession more inclusive and open to all?

  • Target diverse audiences
  • Target STEM students
  • Provide support in the workplace with mentors and sponsors
  • Reduce stigma of apprentice versus University routes (vocational v academic elitism)
  • Have visible role models

 

NORTH FORELAND LIGHTHOUSE

Q: How can Universities and Colleges ensure a ‘pipeline’ of new apprentices to guarantee their courses are filled?

  • Target young people at point of choosing GCSE / A level options.
  • Provide careers advice about architecture in sixth forms and FE Colleges
  • Sponsor some students/ apprentices – WCCA/ Other liveries/ Employers/ Local Authorities bursaries?
  • Create a ‘story’ about careers in architecture, so school leavers understand what the profession does is ‘interesting’. See recent teaching adverts ‘what’s the story.’

 

ORFORDNESS LIGHTHOUSE

Q: It is expensive for any business to train an apprentice. What alternative financial models and/or career paths could be deployed?

  • Flexible employment so the apprentice works part-time for two separate employers who share the cost/time commitment.
  • External mentors within offices (maybe retired architects?), who help support apprentices, so the time burden is removed from fee earning staff (in part.)
  • CPD on key subjects for apprentices, managed via RIBA regional offices?

 

POINT LYNAS LIGHTHOUSE

Q: Apprentices in different businesses have different learning experiences. How can University/College courses be tailored to meet their needs while remaining economically viable?

  • Provide materials to learn/train from industry to education establishments (provide or fund)
  • Create a labour exchange across different practices so that larger, smaller, micro practices can support talent
  • Create partnerships amongst universities so apprentices can work flexibly to secure their qualifications (perhaps taking some courses at their registered ‘base’ university and other courses from a different university?)

 

SOUTHWOLD LIGHTHOUSE

Q: How can the Livery movement/Architect’s Company best help embed Architecture apprentices amongst employers, universities and the profession?

  • Create, maintain and develop a digital networking platform to connect and share opportunities across the profession
  • Offer ‘speed dating’ events so prospective candidates, apprentices, graduates and employers can meet each other.
  • Offer Student membership of the Company of Architects to apprentices
  • Provide apprentice bursaries and Awards

 

I would like to thank our sponsors for this event, Assael Architecture, Foster +Partners and Scott Brownrigg as well as all those who participated in the event (shown in the Appendix)

APPENDIX – PARTICIPANTS:

 

Eddystone Lighthouse (1)

Q: What are the barriers to entering the architectural profession and how can they be overcome?

Needles Lighthouse (2)

Q: It takes a long time to train an apprentice. How can employers guarantee employment and training continuity, despite changes in workload or market failure?

Apprentice – Jo McLean Apprentice – Oliver Anthony
Christian Frost (U) Angie Pascoe (U)
Kees Van der Sande Chris Dyson
Peter Murray Chris Dysons’ guest
Peter Hirst Dexter Moren
Sylvia Hyde Wan Yau
Roger Hawkins Peter Luscombe
Roger Hawkins’ guest Mervyn Miller
Jaki Howes Paul Weston
Mike Baulcombe (RIBA Education) John McWhinney

 

Longstone Lighthouse (1)

Q: Apprentices are not in university or FE College cohorts. How can employers, universities and others tackle the isolation often felt by apprentices

 

Royal Sovereign Lighthouse (2)

Q: How can we make the architectural profession more inclusive and open to all?

 

Apprentice – Katherine Birkett Apprentice – Kudzai Chirimuuta
Suzanne Isa (U) Stuart Cameron (U)
Michael Stiff Bola Agiri
Sandra Papworth Valerie Owen Le Vaillant
Alan Downing Robert Le Vaillant
Richard Brindley Louise Le Vaillant
Nicola Brindley Philip Cooper
Barry Munday Caroline Cooper
Mayoor Jagjiwan Captain Ian McNaught CVO

 

 

 

 

 

Key: (U) = University representative. Thanks to colleagues from University of East London; University of Greenwich; London South Bank University; Kingston University; Westminster University; Architectural Association & London Metropolitan University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Foreland Lighthouse (2)

Q: How can Universities and Colleges ensure a ‘pipeline’ of new apprentices to guarantee their courses are filled?

 

Orfordness Lighthouse (1)

Q: It is expensive for any business to train an apprentice. What alternative financial models and/or career paths could be deployed?

 

Apprentice – William Newbold Apprentice – Phil Hawtin
Luke Murray (U) Sandra Denicke-Polcher (U)
Chantelle Le Vaillant Jo Bacon
Elizabeth Wilks Jo Bacon’s guest
Stephen Wagstaffe Lucy Musgrave
Geoff Purves James Walker
Teresa Blaxland Tzena James
Audrey Hesse Anna Chetwynd
Malcolm O’Brien Phil Gibbs
Cheryl Reid Helen Hickman

 

Point Lynas Lighthouse (2)

Q: Apprentices in different businesses have different learning experiences. How can University/College courses be tailored to meet their needs while remaining economically viable?

Southwold Lighthouse (1)

Q: How can the Livery movement/Architect’s Company best help embed Architecture apprentices amongst employers, universities and the profession?

Apprentice – Elwood Marshall Apprentice – Amy Allwood
Kira Ariskina (U) Tim Smith (U)
Javier Castanon (U) Stuart Le Sage
Elspeth Clements Chris Williamson
Prof David Porter Sam Cooper
Richard Biggins Nigel Thompson
George Baxter Roger France
Nicholas Rowe Michel Mossessian
Charlotte Sword Albena Atanassova

 

 

 

 

The Master acknowledges, with thanks, the sponsors for this event:

Assael Architecture; Foster + Partners and Scott Brownrigg