Jack Francis, Land Drainage Engineer, works at Wiltshire Council in the Highways team. He will soon be studying for his Degree in Civil Engineering.

We started by asking Jack about his career history and why he chose to study and work within the Engineering sector?

When I finished school after my GCSEs I studied Sport and Fitness at Wiltshire College for two years as I had an interest in the area. I then started work at Wiltshire Council within Customer Services, later moving into highways, where I have been for eight years. I began my career in highways in the area office as a highways support officer. I became more interested in the work and decided to undertake distance learning. This then developed into studying for my HNC in Civil Engineering and I am currently working towards my HND in Civil Engineering which I will be finishing in a few months’ time. Once this is completed I will move onto my degree – funded my Wiltshire Council apprenticeship levy. I decided to pursue engineering because it’s great to see schemes come to life. I spend time in the office designing projects and then get to go out on site and see the results – which is a relief when it all goes well!

What does your role involve and where do you see it taking you in the future?

I work on all things related to weather and drainage across the county, salting roads and the farmer network. A recent example would be project managing the A350 scheme. I ensure the project is done to standard, liaise with the public, design and improve drainage systems. I also work with partners to find contractors for the jobs. I envisage I will complete my Civil Engineering Degree – which Wiltshire Council will fund via an apprenticeship then I will look to become chartered via a portfolio of work.

Are there any myths you would like to dispel about engineering? And what advice would you give to those looking to join the sector?

I would say it is not entirely maths based, I am not a great mathematician but I have got through all of my assignments! There are also key skills needed which you may not consider, for example project management, but I also use computer programs such as AutoCAD therefore there is a real mix. Engineering is an area where people are often put under the same job title but there are lots of areas and there is something for everyone, no matter your skill set. I would say to get work experience if possible, it’s great to see first-hand what goes on behind the scenes. In terms of apprenticeships it’s brilliant to be earning a wage the whole time and in my case I will be completing a degree as well.

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