Usaama Yate: National Apprenticeship Week 2020

As part of our activities celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2020, our Leeds-based Apprentice Technician Usaama Yate tells us how decided to take the Apprentice Degree route, explains the benefits and just how he balances a work-life with student life.

Six months ago I was delighted to receive the news that I had been offered a Degree Apprenticeship here at Curtins to work and study towards my Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering at Leeds Beckett University.

Having finished my A levels I was faced with the options of what to do next. University is the most common and favourable option amongst people my age, but I was never too sure if a full-time, three-year course was something I had my heart set on. I definitely felt as though I wanted – and needed to – continue with my further education. Fortunately for me, I had done a week’s work experience with Curtins while at Sixth form, so when I saw a job advertisement for an apprentice here I saw this as a great opportunity. I’d already been in the office before and enjoyed my time there. I felt it was the company and working environment that I wanted to be a part of.

I have now been working for a little over four months in a structural team of nine people as an Apprentice Technician. On my first day, I was nervous and worried. This would have been classed as my first ‘proper’ full-time job, and I didn’t know what to expect or how it would go. But after the first day and meeting my team (who were very friendly and welcoming), I knew there was nothing to worry about and I was able to fit in perfectly!

I believe I have a come a long way from my first day and have learnt so much in a short period and can now contribute to the team. I am currently assisting on several projects such as the refurbishment of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the new HMRC Building in Wellington Place. I am lucky enough to be sat next to a very experienced technician who has been providing guidance and support throughout all my training and is constantly happy to help and answer any questions.

As much as I enjoy my time studying at Leeds Beckett, it goes to say without a doubt that the amount of learning that goes on at Curtins outweighs that of at university. So much so, that I find some topics we’re covering at uni I am already familiar with through my work here. This is one of the biggest advantages I find from doing a degree apprenticeship – it not only reinforces my learning as I’ve done it more than once, but it makes my time at university a lot easier and more enjoyable.

Despite this, so far, I have found that time management will be a crucial aspect to both a successful and enjoyable completion of the apprenticeship. Having University assignments/exams/coursework etc… While working full-time can easily cause you to start to fall behind. It’s SO important to stay on top of your work! Before I started the apprenticeship I was a bit concerned that the full-time job would affect this stage of my life where all my friends are out enjoying themselves, living more of that social ‘student lifestyle’. But I’m still at the university, and I’ve managed to make new friends and meet new apprentices from different companies from all around the region, which has been great.

For anybody out there who is unsure or is on the fence about doing a degree apprenticeship, I fully recommend it. From my experiences so far it’s a decision that I will look back on with no regret and am very excited and looking forward to what the future holds both at university and Curtins.