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BIM Building Information Modelling Project Management Farrans Higher Level Apprenticeships Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week

HLA Student Case Study: Building Information Modelling Project Management

Niall Moore, Level 7 Higher Level Apprentice. Building Information Modelling Project Management, Farrans/Queen’s University Belfast

Niall Moore, HLA Apprentice

“My particular HLA was the Master’s level BIM. I’m currently 2/3 of the way through it on my second year part-time. I was one of three from Farrans to actually start the HLA in 2019. It’s been a very positive experience, obviously challenging, but very positive with plenty of group work. Being able to apply your own experiences to items of course work and vice versa. Bringing experiences learned in the classroom back to your work has been one of the biggest advantages for me.

With the vast amounts of guest lecturers that you have on this particular course, for example, is invaluable.  

People bring experiences from all walks of life into the classroom… People that work in construction law, specialist BIM consultancies…the list goes on. So real life experience has been bought brought onto the classroom also.

The flexibility and the support from staff on the HLA scheme is second to none. The lines of communication are very clear and it’s never an issue to get hold of somebody when you need them. So, it’s a very hands-on approach from the staff at Queen’s. Also, you get very rewarding feedback on your assignments, especially when it’s on an interesting that’s related to your day to day work. I find that very, very rewarding too.

I’m on a path to progression within the organisation and hopefully that can continue once I finish.”

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s

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BIM Building Information Modelling Project Management Employer events Farrans Higher Level Apprenticeships

HLA Employer Case Study: Farrans

Cara Hanna, Training Advisor at Farrans

Cara Hanna, Farrans

“I am a training advisor at Farrans, so I would be responsible for looking after our apprentices, placements and graduates. We are a civil engineering and building organisation, head office inNorthern Ireland, but we’re located across the UK and Ireland. We operate in all sectors of the construction industry, delivering a wide range of projects.

In relation to our apprenticeship story, up until 2016, entry into Farrans was placement or graduate. Other than that, it was experienced hire.

As you are probably aware, the construction industry has been dealing with a skill shortage for a number of years now.

So in 2016, we came together with other like-minded organisations, colleges and universities and the ICE and we developed WorkPlus.  

WorkPlus is an organisation that brings employers together in Northern Ireland and it offers apprenticeships at all levels in over 150 disciplines. 

At Farans, we offer our Higher Level Apprenticeships starting at level 5, which is foundation level, level 6 degree and level 7 Master’s in Construction Management, Civil Engineering and Quantity Surveying as well as that the Building Information Modelling Project Management (BIM) Master’s course at Queen’s. 

Apprenticeships have opened a whole new talent stream for Farrans. We are now able to attract employees into various roles, including engineering, estimating, programme planning and many others. 

At Farrans, we have seen our apprentices develop at a fast pace. 

Some of our apprentices in the business have more than three or four years’ experience, even though they haven’t got their degree yet. Some of our apprentices are operating at a site engineer level, yet they are still yet to complete their degree. 

We try not to class them as an apprentice, but by the role that they’re doing and experience that they’ve gained. 

The benefits for students that we have seen – this generation said they wanted more options, more choices and with apprenticeships we can offer that now. 

It’s no longer one route to gaining that degree or Master’s, there’s many more options and many benefits. 

Apprentices are able to put into place what they learn in real time.

They’re learning from experienced staff and they’re building that successful career path. 

The big selling point that we see whenever we’re talking to parents, careers teachers and young people is that you earn while you learn and the students have no debt.

Apprentices are important to Farrans because they not only give us a vibrant talent stream but they also give us the opportunity to shape, nurture and support the apprentices on their journey from the very start. We believe that everybody deserves an opportunity and we understand that not everybody learns in the same way. Being able to offer many apprenticeships is a great opportunity.”

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s

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Higher Level Apprenticeships Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week PwC Software With Digital Technology

HLA Student Case Study: Software Engineering with Digital Technology

Maisy Sinclair, Level 6 Higher Level Apprentice, Software Engineering with Digital Technology Partnership, PWC/Queen’s University Belfast

Maisy Sinclair, Level 6 Apprentice

“I was doing a weird mix of A-levels – Art, Spanish, Maths and Software Systems and I had never done any computer-based subjects before that. I really liked Software Systems, it was a challenge, so then I applied for Computer Science at Queen’s. I got an email about this course.

My dad never went to University or anything but he himself did an apprenticeship and he was really encouraging me. It’s really good to have practical experience as well as educational, so I just jumped at the chance and took it on board and I’d definitely say it has lived up to my expectations. 

I like the way it’s structured and I get to go on different placements throughout my whole degree rather than having one full year out.

It’s really good to be able to have that uni experience and being able to apply that to the job environment. From my perspective, I was able to have a full year in uni before I had to go into placement and start applying it to the workplace and I definitely found that I was more equipped to work better in the working environment that if I had had to go in blind with no university education at all.

In terms of then coming back to uni after placement, I’ve definitely been more in tune with the business perspective when I’m studying my modules.

So, I’m not just thinking about studying for an exam, I’m thinking, well how can I apply this work that I’m doing in uni to a business perspective and a job in the future.”

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s.

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ECIT Higher Level Apprenticeships Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Computer Science Software With Digital Technology

HLA Academic Case Study: Software with Digital Technology

Dr Charles Gillan, senior lecturer at the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

“I’ve been with Queen’s now about 20 years as a senior lecturer and throughout that time, we’ve always had very strong links in our computer science department with industry, particularly on the research side with the ECIT Institute. It makes sense, then, for us to expand and deepen or links by proactively collaborating with employers for the undergraduate programme. And that is what the Higher Level Apprenticeships allow us to do on. We have a Software Engineering with Digital Technology partnership, which is strongly associated with PWC.

We engage with other employers as well in the University, law enforcement and banking to name two, who are particularly strong players in the IT sector in Northern Ireland. 

The content of our degrees therefore reflect challenges facing industry today and indeed facing all IT-based organisations. So, it’s not a surprise to learn that in the later years of our degree, students engage with cyber-security topics: malware and analytics related to Security. Plus, on the other side, artificial intelligence and machine learning are now driving lots of parts of the economy and our students have the opportunity to engage with modules on those topics. This is in addition to traditional computer science topics, such as advanced programming and performance. So, in the round it’s a degree which allows students to engage with all the topics that are active in IT at this time, so they generally report that they find it very interesting and exciting.”

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s

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Employer Engagement Higher Level Apprenticeships Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week PwC Software With Digital Technology

HLA Employer Case Study: PWC

Joanne Corry, Student Recruitment Manager, PWC

“Our Higher Level Apprenticeship that we have with Queen’s University Belfast is a Software with Digital Technology. We have just recruited our fourth intake for 2021. It is a four-year degree programme, and you are an apprentice from Day One at Queen’s University. 

“For us as a firm, this partnership brings a lot of benefits. We have students that are quite focussed on what they want to do and the career path that they want to take.

They complete placements throughout their time at University with PWC – in first and second year, a 3-month placement from June to August, and then in third and final year they do nine-month placements, split over two placements. 

For us as a firm, it diversifies our workforce. So, we’re getting them straight from A level, they are learning up-to-date academic knowledge in that field and bringing those key skills into our workplace, which really benefits us as a firm.

We’ve had some amazing students in and we have already used some of their proposals of work they have done.

For the student, it is excellent. You are an employee of the firm from Day One. You get all your fees paid, you get a salary from PWC and alongside the salary and the University learning, you also have that support network in the firm as well. 

So, you will be able to be mentored by people that are specialist in the area that you wish to pursue your career in and support your academic learning also. 

We became involves in the HLA partnership because we felt it was necessary for our firm to look at other options and it’s been a real success to date.

It is important for PWC to have an influence on what’s covered within the programmme because that is what we need future employees of the firm to be aware of. Mixing that academic with industry experience gives the student a better overall experience of putting the theory in to practice, so it really important to have industry within that academic piece, to bring it all to life for the students and  see how it works in the real world.

There is a learning experience to come with it. There is a bit more pastoral care needed and a bit of upskilling in professionalism and how to conduct a conversation with clients etc, but what I would say is they take it up really quickly because they’re really engaged and really committed to what they’re doing.

We don’t really see them as apprentices but as graduates within the firm because they are doing the same level of work and they are coming back with that experience each placement.

There is probably a bit of structure needed in place to support them because it is a big learning experience for them, going betweenUniversity and the workplace. We have put a lot of time and effort into that to make sure we do give all the support that’s required.” 

Find out more about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Queen’s