Surveying the path to success



Graduate Apprenticeships are an ideal way to create development pathways and to help achieve career goals.

Ryan Watson’s story is the perfect case in point. Ryan was working in a bank but had a long-held ambition to pursue a career in Quantity Surveying. Deciding to take control of his career choices, Ryan initially went down the traditional undergraduate path. However, shortly after starting, the opportunity came up to go down the Graduate Apprenticeship route in a role with the City of Edinburgh Council’s Building Standards department.

He was attracted by the opportunity of being able to study for a BSc (Hons) Construction and the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University, while gaining valuable on the job experience. As Ryan explains “The benefits of the Graduate Apprenticeship were clear to me. The combination of University and work-based learning created a pathway to achieve my career goals. I felt that getting a degree plus building up four years’ experience would open up many more opportunities in the future.”

One of the key benefits of a Graduate Apprenticeship is the two-way nature of the application of learning at University and in the workplace. Ryan’s workplace mentor, Kevin Gibb explains “Ryan has worked closely with several members of the Building Standards team at The City of Edinburgh Council and has been involved in several high-profile projects across the city.

He has been successful in bringing his learned knowledge to his role as a Surveyor and has been able to integrate site/work experience into his University learning – Ryan’s reacted very positively to working remotely and continues to develop a strong understanding of the built environment.”     

Ryan’s academic study has been successfully complemented by a selection of work-based projects to focus on the key learning outcomes of each of his course descriptors. This has included identifying appropriate construction projects and tasking Ryan with undertaking duties such as site-based surveying and building warrant plan assessment in the office as a desktop study type basis.

Danny Henderson, Ryan’s line manager, notes how his development has been enhanced by being able to work collaboratively with other teams. “Ryan has worked both independently and also with his colleagues to develop his technical and professional skillset. Ryan’s successful development has been supported by his colleagues in Building Standards, however he has received additional mentoring from colleagues in the Council’s Housing Property and Asset Management teams to understand the wider roles within the construction industry and support areas of academic study.”

Ryan’s long-term ambition is to be fully qualified and become a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and also the Chartered Institute of Building. The structure of the Construction and the Built Environment Graduate Apprenticeship has set Ryan firmly on his path to achieve his goals. The Heriot-Watt programme is fully accredited by RICS and is the ideal platform to go on and achieve Chartered Surveyor status.

Dr Graeme Bowles sums up Ryan’s progress perfectly “As his programme leader and tutor, I have observed Ryan’s personal and professional development in the time that he has been an apprentice with us at the University. It’s very gratifying to see young people develop and flourish as valuable employees, and to witness their rapidly growing maturity, initiative and problem-solving skills that the apprenticeship model enables. Ryan is one of a growing cohort of apprentices at Edinburgh City Council who I believe will go on to make a real difference to the business.”


David Aaron