Apprenticeship Case Study – Charlotte Chilman, HS2

Mar 2, 2022 | News

Former HS2 apprentice Charlotte Chilman
Charlotte Chilman was once a new apprentice with the high-speed rail project in Birmingham but is now helping the next generation of talent find a path

High-speed rail project HS2 last month launched its latest recruitment drive for apprentices in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

The project is hiring for a diverse range of roles in fields such as cyber security, commercial procurement, civil engineering and health and safety.

The transport project already employs 20,000 staff building phase one of the line between London and Birmingham and phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe.

Last year, it became an employer partner of the Ladder for Greater Birmingham campaign which was launched in 2018 in partnership with BirminghamLive to connect would-be apprentices with employers and training providers.

Here, Charlotte Chilman, a former HR apprentice from Birmingham, outlines why she shunned the traditional university route in order to follow an apprenticeship and earn while you learn with HS2.

“I was 19 when I began my apprenticeship. I did well at sixth form and secured three A-Levels but I didn’t want to go to university. The thought of getting into debt scared me and I wasn’t 100 per cent sure what I wanted to do career-wise so it seemed like a lot of time and money to invest without a clear goal in sight.

“Everyone has heard of HS2 and that’s what initially attracted me. Back in 2019, when I applied, it felt like the biggest thing happening in the West Midlands and three years on that hasn’t changed.

“Despite the pandemic, Birmingham is booming and I think HS2 is playing a big part in that. If you’re considering an apprenticeship, the best advice that I can give is to think carefully about the organisation – do your research first.

“Can you be sure they’ll invest in you and not leave you to do the jobs no-one else wants to do? And think about your future too. Will your apprenticeship lead to a career? Is the programme flexible, allowing you to join different departments to discover what appeals to you most?

“HS2 was a great place to begin my career. People assume it’s entirely construction focused but that isn’t the case. It’s such a huge project, with core functions like the environment, town planning, health and safety and IT at its heart, so there’s an opportunity for everyone.

“I studied for a Level Three apprenticeship in human resources and, after finishing my studies last year, I’ve progressed into a permanent role in the ‘future talent’ team.

“Each year HS2 takes on a new cohort of apprentices and graduates and I’m now part of the team that supports them on their future career journey. If I had my time again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

For more information about an apprenticeship with HS2 visit its careers website – the deadline for applications is March 9

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