Three Walsall College students are striding straight into new careers on Europe’s biggest infrastructure project – HS2 – after securing the results they needed in their Construction – Design, Surveying and Planning T Level.
As part of their studies, Jemma Lahert-Cotterill, Finn Watson and Charlotte Gibberson successfully completed 45-day industry placements with HS2’s construction partner, Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), which accounted for 20% of their final grade.
All three students passed their exams with flying colours. They will now begin their Civil Engineering Degree Level Apprenticeships, fully funded by BBV, and study at the University of Wolverhampton while working on HS2.
The new recruits will join BBV’s engineering team in South Warwickshire, which is tasked with delivering a series of bridges and viaducts across a 12.5km section of the new railway. This includes viaducts that span the River Leam, River Avon, Finham Brook and the Grand Union Canal embankment.
Peter Rigby, Balfour Beatty VINCI’s Construction Director for the South Warwickshire section of the HS2 route said: “We’re absolutely delighted to welcome Charlotte, Jemma and Finn to the civil engineering team. The experience they gained during their industry placements gives them a head start and means we can quickly integrate them into the team.
“The opportunity for personal growth in front of them, working on HS2, will set their careers on a very solid foundation and I look forward to seeing them develop on the project.”
18-year-old Charlotte from Sutton Coldfield said: “I’m really excited to take the next step in my career and begin my degree-level apprenticeship with Balfour Beatty VINCI. For a Civil Engineer based in the West Midlands, working on HS2 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the perfect reward for all the hard work I put in during my T Level studies.”
18-year-old Finn said: “Before my placement with Balfour Beatty VINCI, I wasn’t sure which direction to go in. Thankfully, it proved to be a brilliant decision and inspired me to pursue a career in construction. Now I’ve successfully completed my T Level qualification, I can’t wait for the next challenge and to begin my degree apprenticeship in Civil Engineering.”
18-year-old Jemma from Birmingham, who was also awarded the Walsall College Student of the Year Award for 2023, said: “I chose to go down the apprenticeship route because the idea of learning and working at the same time really appeals to me. HS2 is an incredible project and I can’t think of a better way to continue my development, both personally and professionally.”
BBV was one of the very first construction companies to support the Construction – Design, Surveying and Planning T-Level, recognising the vital role it can play in attracting more young people into the transport infrastructure sector. It formed a partnership with Walsall College in 2020 when T-Levels were first introduced.
To date, 11 students have gone on to secure degree-level apprenticeships with BBV after completing their T-Levels, helping HS2 to achieve its mission of upskilling the next generation.