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Rylie applied to become a Children’s Commissioner Ambassador because she wants to improve the education system so that it empowers future leaders and inspires and prepares young minds for success in the world of work.
Join Rylie – a Children’s Commissioner Ambassador and Apprentice Build Manager at Willmott Dixon – on a journey into the world of apprenticeships. Discover her personal route to a career in construction and gain valuable advice for young people considering an apprenticeship.

From an early age, I struggled in mainstream education. But, during my time at a technical college in year 10 and 11, I participated in 13 diverse work experience programs. Each program exposed me to new roles and provided invaluable insights into various industries. Through hands-on learning and immersive work experience, I developed crucial skills and fuelled my enthusiasm. I recognised the impact of work experience on my education and knew that apprenticeships would be invaluable for my learning.

Getting this invaluable experience was a key point in my journey which meant I felt career ready. Exploring the world of apprenticeships can be difficult and hard. However, I was given support every step of the way by my Career’s Leader at technical college. Taking part in mock interviews, advice for my applications, proof reading, tips for my assessment centre. All of this made it much easier to secure my apprenticeship.

Rylie at work wearing a hard hat and  florescent tabbard.
Rylie at work.

This experience was so different to being in mainstream education. I was told I would never achieve anything, and I was written off as troubled. Looking back the environment was incredibly challenging for me, I was expected to fit in and be who they wanted me to be. Everyone learns differently, everyone needs different support, and everyone excels differently. Moving to technical college and having a totally different experience fuelled my passion for changing education. I have been able to work with lots of companies to support changing education for the better.

I took part in work experience with Willmott Dixon where I got to experience a range of roles within the business. It was the peak of COVID, so it was all virtual, but it was still a great experience. I got to meet employees, apprentices and get to see what it would be like working for them. A couple of months later an opportunity to apply for their management trainee program popped up.

On my 16th birthday I travelled to Manchester for my assessment centre day with Willmott Dixon. The day was packed full of activities, all challenging in different ways. It was a great experience, but, when leaving I wasn’t sure I had a chance. I spent the day surrounded by people with degrees, people with years of experience, people years older than me. A couple of months later I got a phone call to say I had secured my dream apprenticeship. So, if you’re currently applying then have confidence in yourself, my experience goes to show that it’s not all about the qualifications.

Now, in my second year of apprenticeship, I continue to learn and grow every day. Apprenticeships provide a practical alternative to traditional education, offering hands-on learning and a direct route into a chosen industry. Joining Willmott Dixon as an apprentice has provided invaluable support, continued development, and a strong professional network. Working closely with the site team has not only accelerated my learning but broadened my industry understanding.

I have been in the industry for less that two years and it has been a brilliant journey so far. The opportunities I have had and the people I have met have all been great. Last year I was named ‘One To Watch’ at the Top 100 Influential Women in Construction awards which was an amazing achievement. Being able to take part in networking events has provided new opportunities and opened doors to different people which has accelerated my learning.

Rylie winning ‘One To Watch’ at the Top 100 Influential Women in Construction awards.
Rylie winning ‘One To Watch’ at the Top 100 Influential Women in Construction awards.

What do I love about my apprenticeship? There are so many things! A big bonus for lots of apprentices is that I’m debt free, but, this is just a small part. It has connected me with a diverse network of colleagues, mentors and industry professionals which has enhanced my learning experience. I love that everyday is different – new people, new projects and new challenges.

From starting my apprenticeship in construction, I realised that there are so many stigmas that just aren’t true. I wanted to share my journey and work to knock down these myths in the hope to inspire more young people into the industry. I am lucky enough to work alongside organisations like NAWIC, Youth Employment UK, CIOB and so many more. Sitting on these committees and boards has been again great for my development and it has given me a platform to support a better industry, share and inspire others.

Apprenticeships are for everyone, no matter their age or where they are in their journey. They provide a unique opportunity to blend practical experience with theoretical knowledge, and to contribute positively to the workplace. My top five tips as an apprentice are:

  1. Emphasise your enthusiasm for learning, willingness to work hard, and adaptability to new challenges. Express your eagerness to absorb knowledge from experienced professionals and your commitment to developing valuable skills that will serve as a strong foundation for your career.
  2. Tailor each application to the role, highlighting relevant skills, experiences, and passion related to the apprenticeship.
  3. Remember that apprenticeships are competitive, so don’t be disheartened if you get rejected. Apply for different options and don’t give up!
  4. Network and seek guidance. Attend industry events, insight evenings, and networking sessions to build connections with professionals in your industry. Reaching out to current or former apprentices is a great way to gain insights into their experiences and seek support.
  5. Settling into an apprenticeship can be challenging, so be kind to yourself and don’t give up. It’s a journey full of incredible learning, growth, and development.
Find our more about apprenticeships and National Apprentice Week here:

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