Having engaged in the RIBA-approved architecture degree apprenticeships programme – which is still relatively new to the profession and only available through a select few institutions – we welcomed two apprentices from London South Bank University: Ash, a second year Level 6 Architectural Assistant, (equivalent to the Part 1 qualification) and Tegan, who is commencing the Level 7 Architect apprenticeship degree (includes the Part 2 and 3 qualifications). LOM is now providing mentorship for both students, helping to nurture their professional and academic growth.
The scheme breaks down the traditional university course and allows students to work a 4-day week in practice while studying, providing a smoother and more linear career path. More importantly, it creates a profession that is far more accessible to young people from all backgrounds. Students can avoid significant debt from loans and tuition fees, while SMEs only pay a portion of the apprenticeship levy, with the government covering the rest.
In an interview with The Guardian, RIBA President, Muyiwa Oki, said “education is also under the spotlight” when discussing who can access architecture, calling for a “rethink of how the subject is taught, and the need for alternative routes to qualification.” He added: “We need to reimagine a way to encourage students to be curious, creative and innovative… It’s time to look at different pathways into the profession, and focus more on outcomes-based education.”
“I knew that I wanted to focus on the actual design side, and I was eager to find a route that would support me in my development towards becoming an Architect.”
Investing in career development
Here at LOM, we invest in our team and seek out new ways to support career development. The practice actively assists staff working towards their architectural qualification through Parts 1, 2 and 3, offering in-practice experience alongside their academic studies, which both broadens the pool of people and enables valuable work experience outside of the classroom. We believe this is critical within today’s cost-of-living crisis, and we believe that architecture as a profession would benefit from increased diversity. LOM developed an Action Plan that is reviewed by our EDI working group each year and aims to address issues around the professional life cycle that affect equality, diversity, and inclusion.
The first step in implementing this plan has been to increase access to work placements for a diverse range of young people and give our staff an alternative route to gaining the Part 2 accreditation. In addition to supporting the City of London Framework, we established a training policy and expanded our involvement with Open City to include a broader range of educational programmes.
Architecture Apprenticeships help students build confidence and gain independence as they navigate the profession. The programme creates a more inclusive sector, making architectural education more accessible for everyone – and it is hoped students will qualify with more well-rounded experience to hit the ground running as architects.
“The apprenticeship option allows me to continue working and gain a different variety of experience with practical hands-on involvement on live projects.”
Breaking down barriers
When asked about his experience to-date, Ash Rahman, Level 6 apprentice at LOM architecture and design, explained: “As someone starting my career focused on Architectural Visualisation, my passion for architecture grew and developed out of this. I knew that I wanted to focus on the actual design side, and I was eager to find a route that would support me in my development towards becoming an Architect. Through extensive research, I discovered this new apprenticeship scheme at London Southbank University, and with LOM’s support and mentorship, I am finding the move to be very beneficial and I’m gaining tonnes of knowledge, be it technical or practical. It’s proving to be an invaluable experience so far”.
Tegan Blakey, Level 7 apprentice at LOM architecture and design, said: ‘I’ve just started my Part 2 (level 7 Apprenticeship) at Southbank University and I’m already feeling totally engaged with the course. It’s full on but I like the idea of being able to work while completing my studies. The apprenticeship option allows me to continue working and gain a different variety of experience with practical hands-on involvement on live projects, which is rare on the full time Master’s degree. The ability to complete my architecture studies with the support of LOM is a great opportunity to attain more knowledge within the industry.”
Mentor and Director at LOM architecture and design, Ben Taylor, added:
“LOM is supportive of the apprenticeship scheme and the wider benefits it offers to help break down the social barriers in the profession. It still feels relatively ‘under the radar’ but we hope that with growing support from practices who see the benefits in terms of increased diversity as well as improved practical experience, it will gain more traction. Mentoring Ash and Tegan over the past few months has been a real pleasure for the practice, and we would encourage other practices to also engage, and support emerging talent.”