Building a Bright Future: Dylan's journey through architectural apprenticeship

Published on 06/02/2024

As an architect, you get the chance to leave your imprint on the world –being responsible for the creation of the built environment and designing the buildings that surround us.

Studying architecture gives students the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives. Whether that be through designing places that are tailored to meet residents’ needs or mitigating the effects of climate change.

Typically, it takes five years to achieve an Architecture undergraduate degree with an additional three years of professional internships.

In recent years, however, a new route to the profession has become increasingly popular for budding architects such as Dylan from Rainham.

In September 2019, Dylan Finch, 22, began an Architectural Assistant apprenticeship at housing association, L&Q, after finishing his A Levels. The four-year Level 6 apprenticeship is equivalent to a degree and offers an alternative gateway to qualification in partnership with London South Bank university.

Combining practical experience with academic training, the apprenticeship is fully coursework based, best mirroring the way architects work in real life.

“When I was at school, I enjoyed subjects like art and design where I could be creative, innovative and solve problems. I was looking for a career where I could put these qualities into practice to benefit people in real ways. This led me to architecture,” said Dylan.

When debating whether to go to university or do an apprenticeship, the opportunity to earn whilst you learn and gain practical experience appealed to Dylan.

“University didn’t interest me in the way it does for others. I didn’t want to spend five years in lecture theatres and come out with not much practical experience. With an apprenticeship, I knew I would be at a progressed stage, with exposure to the industry under my belt, and a foot in the door of a company I could work for afterwards” Dylan continued.

Working on award-winning developments including Addiscombe Road and Greenwich Peninsula, Dylan stood much to gain from time spent with professionals at a company with an in-house construction arm. This has included exposure to all the aspects of a development project – working with colleagues involved in everything from design to construction and project management to sales and marketing.”

“There is nothing better than working with qualified professionals’ day to day, because it genuinely feels like no one else is best placed to teach someone straight out of school. 

Support wise, I’ve received loads from my manager, and we have regular catchups to talk about my work, set goals and identify areas for improvement.” said Dylan.

On target for a first-class degree, Dylan also had his work showcased at an architectural exhibition last year. His ‘Beyond the Burrow’ project aims to tackle the decreasing population of birds and their habitats in London through the creation of a mixed-use building for humans and wildlife.

Dylan has been involved in a range of tasks whilst at L&Q, including regulation compliance, sub-contractor recruitment and the coordination of design between consultants. His passion lies in the client relations side of the role, and he is due to start a permanent position with L&Q once he has completed his apprenticeship.

Asked if he would recommend an Architectural Assistant apprenticeship, he said:

“Definitely. I’ve learnt so much over the last four years -there are so many different aspects of the role that I wasn’t prepared for when I first joined. It’s opened up pathways and built my confidence.”

The benefits of hiring an apprentice go both ways, according to Dylan’s manager Dinesh Kumar, Senior Design and Technical Manager at L&Q.

“Apprentices are often highly driven and motivated individuals. Being new to the industry, they are curious and want to know and understand everything. Their thirst for knowledge coupled with their fresh eyes enables them to question the way we do things – and this new perspective is invaluable”, said Dinesh.

This is the first time Dinesh has managed an apprentice – and the experience has been very positive.

“Dylan is really switched on personality with a positive attitude, and he likes to learn and take responsibility for his work. I admire his discipline and commitment, and I’m pleased he will be working with us after his apprenticeship.”

“I think there are many advantages to the apprenticeship route. As long as the candidate is able to balance work with study, it can help aspiring architects get ahead. Dylan is thinking about getting his chartership at the age of 22, which is a great achievement: as generally, in the construction industry, people don’t start considering their chartered programme until their late 20s / early 30s.”