National Apprenticeship Rising Star of the Year Yorkshire and Humber Sam Conlon

Award winning degree apprentice, Sam Conlon, shares his experience studying for a BSC (Hons) Civil Engineering while working at JBA Consulting.


Sam holds the Rising Star of the Year award

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you chose to study a degree apprenticeship? 

I had very little experience in Civil Engineering when I started working for JBA Consulting in 2016. Because of this, they fully supported my goal to study part-time alongside full-time employment.

During my first 4 years at JBA, I completed the Level 3, HNC and HND qualifications. These allowed me to join the Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship at Leeds Beckett University in 2020.

I have really enjoyed studying for a degree apprenticeship at LBU. and have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to achieve a BSc qualification whilst gaining relevant industry work experience and earning at the same time. The process has also helped to advance my role at work, where I have progressed from CAD Technician to Civil Engineer.

Please can you tell us about the National Award you have received?

In October 2022, I won the National Apprenticeship ‘Rising Star of the Year’ regional award for Yorkshire and the Humber. The Rising Star award category seeks to identify apprentices that have made impressive progress in their career to date and have the potential to go even further. I was nominated by my employer – which I am very grateful for!

How did you manage your work commitments and studying for your degree apprenticeship?

Being in full-time employment and studying at the same time is a huge challenge, but extremely rewarding. Ensuring I utilised the 20% off-the-job training (OTJ) each week was key a part of the process. Having that one day a week away from work to attend lectures and complete coursework or revise for exams, was not only a requirement of the apprenticeship, but also vital to ensuring I had the best chance at success. I also made sure I started tasks as soon as I got them, so that the assignment and materials were fresh in my mind, giving myself enough time to complete the task ahead of the deadline.

What support have you had from your employer and the university?

Throughout my degree apprenticeship, my employer has been very supportive. They have given me numerous opportunities in the workplace to achieve the professional attributes required for the End Point Assessment (EPA). At the start of my course, I was appointed a Supervising Civil Engineer (SCE) and Delegate Engineer (DE) to provide mentoring, particularly through the professional accreditation component of the process.

The lecturers and apprenticeship team at LBU were great, helping me keep up with the requirements needed to achieve my degree qualification and work towards professional accreditation.

The support I received throughout the course was a major factor in achieving my degree, for which I am extremely grateful!

What part of the course did you enjoy the most?

The ‘Major Project’ module. I was part of a project team with other degree apprentices. I really enjoyed the scenarios that reinforced the learning from previous modules and exposed me to skills that I don’t get involved with in my day-to-day role.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about studying a degree apprenticeship?

Completing your education and professional development at the same time is a huge time commitment. Ensure you fully understand the requirements of the course and discuss this with your employer to make sure they do too!

Having an end goal in mind but understanding how to achieve it is key. With the help of your employer and LBU, breaking the education and professional accreditation attributes into manageable steps can help you stay focused throughout.

What’s next for you?

This summer I completed the academic portion of the degree apprenticeship, qualifying with a BSc (Hons) First Class in Civil Engineering. In early December, I sat my End-Point Assessment (EPA), which if successful, will qualify me to be an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) with the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE).

We asked Sam's employer what are the benefits of degree apprenticeships?

"JBA have supported Apprenticeships for a number of years across a broad spectrum of business areas. We have seen how our colleagues who successfully complete their apprenticeship have an excellent blend of technical and academic knowledge. They contribute to our business whilst learning so the company and the apprentice both benefit greatly.

Sam has developed as an engineer, a leader and grown as a person throughout the course of his apprenticeship. He has the skills and experience to take on more responsibility than others outside the apprenticeship scheme and he has delivered projects with greater confidence."

Tony Moran, Director – JBA Consulting

School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing

The School of Built Environment & Engineering represents an inclusive and enthusiastic community of staff, students and professional partners who recognise that what they do, design and develop will have a lasting impact on the fabric of society.

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