1 November 2023 | Collaboration | Our Work
The Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG) recently caught up with Macy Richards, Trainee Civil Engineer at Milestone Infrastructure and winner of the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award at this year’s DfT Special Recognition Awards, which took place on the evening of 4th October at Strictly Highways 2023.
What did winning ‘Apprentice of the Year’ mean to you?
Winning apprentice of the year was a great achievement for me as it was an acknowledgement of all the work I have been completing in my job and for the community, something which I am really proud of. I think it also highlights the amazing early careers community we have on the Oxfordshire Highways contract at Milestone Infrastructure. I hope it highlights the importance of not only employing apprentices but providing adequate support for them to allow them to thrive and progress in our industry.
How can the industry be better at promoting itself to younger people?
I believe there are two main things that the industry can do to promote itself to a younger audience. Firstly, to engage with schools/colleges at a variety of ages to develop interest in our work. I think it is important not just to complete career talks when students are at the at the age of 18, as most will have an existing perception of our industry. But to target an age when we are able to make our own first impression and develop an excitement around the work we do from an early age.
I also think the most beneficial thing we could do as an industry is to highlight the variety of work we can offer. For example, before working in my role, if you asked me what highways work was I would have probably said being out on the tools filling pot holes. However, I now understand that there is an amazing array of roles from innovation and technology, environmental and financial roles to design work and of course being out on site. I think young people don’t understand the variety of opportunities and if we can highlight this to students I believe we would get a lot more interest.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their careers and thinking of entering the highways sector?
I would say to take hold and make the most of every opportunity, I really believe the highways industry is a great place to learn and grow as I have learnt so much in my time so far. I would also say there are so many opportunities within highways, so it is an amazing way to develop a lifelong career where you are able to develop into a variety of roles.
Are there any particular challenges you’ve had to overcome as a younger person in highways?
I think for a younger person in the industry, particularly as a female, it is often daunting to walk into a room full of people who have much more experience and knowledge than yourself. It is incredibly important that the industry has a better representation of all the minority groups within it and I believe the only way to achieve this is to have role models to inspire others. I have been very lucky that I have met some amazing role models at events such as Strictly Highways who make me feel more confident that you can still do very well in the industry, even if you do come from one of the minority groups.
In what ways do you hope to help young people who are considering a career within the highways industry?
As I have mentioned, I hope to help people understand that a career in highways is a great opportunity and should be seriously considered. I also hope my work in schools will allow students to understand that apprenticeships are an amazing opportunity that provide you with invaluable experience in the industry alongside your academic qualification. I really believe the benefits you gain from an apprenticeship cannot be replicated in any other way and so should be promoted more by schools and colleges as they aren’t a second choice option. The highways industry is an amazing place to complete an apprenticeship with such a variety of roles and opportunities being offered.
What do you think the sector might look like in 2030?
I think the sector is going to look very different by 2030, like the rest of the world with the rapid developments in technology/AI and sustainability. I hope we will be in a position where carbon emissions are considered with higher importance than the cost of projects in order to meet the environmental goals currently set. I also think the skills shortage/ageing workforce in our industry will be of very high importance, requiring us to adapt to new and more efficient ways of working. Finally, I hope the industry will have a much higher level of diversity by 2030, specifically in senior/leadership roles within these organisations.
About Milestone Infrastructure
Milestone Infrastructure is a part of M Group Services, delivering a range of essential infrastructure services to the water, energy (retail and infrastructure) transport and telecom sectors across the UK and Ireland. Milestone Infrastructure sits within M Group Services Transport Division, positioned to support transport clients across the UK, supporting the safe movement of people via rail, aviation and highways.
Image source: LCRIG