How exams mix-up set Highways England apprentice Pym on road to awards success
Award-winning Pym Westrik might never have found his dream job at Highways England and gone on to claim success in the National Apprenticeship Awards if it wasn’t for a mix-up with his exam results.
The error was soon corrected but by then Pym had lost his place at university. As he reviewed his career path he discovered ‘the amazing opportunities’ in apprenticeships and has not looked back.
The 23-year-old quantity surveyor has excelled in his role and has now been crowned ‘Rising Star of the Year’ for the East Midlands in the National Apprenticeship Awards.
Having beaten off competition from across a breadth of industries regionally, he has won himself a place in the national finals which will take place on 25 November.
Pym started in November 2017 and is working towards a level 6 Chartered Quantity Surveying Apprenticeship with Highways England and Nottingham Trent University.
“I can’t believe the progress I have made at Highways England. Only three years ago I had no experience and didn’t know the industry at all. Now I am taking the lead in the commercial delivery of schemes worth millions of pounds. I have to pinch myself sometimes.”
Pym described how his career path began by accident when a marking error meant he was given the wrong grade in an A-level. He said:
“If you were predicted to do well in your exams at school you were encouraged to go to university. I followed that path and was offered a place on an engineering course, although I didn’t really have a passion for that as a career.
“After the error on results day I decided to look again at my options including apprenticeships. Learning on the job really appealed to me and I had not realized before how many great opportunities were out there. When I came across the quantity surveyor role it ticked all the boxes and I knew this was what I wanted to do.
“I received a few apprenticeship offers and chose Highways England because of how important it is to the infrastructure and economy of the country. To be even a small cog in that system is amazing.”
Pym, who enjoys running in his spare time, hopes for a long career at Highways England as he continues to work for his degree and ultimately sitting the Assessment of Professional Competence with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
And he has been sharing his experiences with pupils at his old school, the Kimberley School Sixth Form in Nottingham, to help them understand the benefits of apprenticeships.
“People say that everything happens for a reason and looking back at that pivotal moment with my results, it was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I love my job, I love the work I am involved with. I work with a brilliant team of very skilled and experienced people and that is invaluable.”
And Pym’s advice to other apprentices:
“All the information can be quite overwhelming when you first get started but there is no need to panic, a lot of it will become second nature to you.
“Just be open to taking on information all of the time, even if you are just listening to two people having a discussion and you Google some of the terms afterwards, you will absorb that knowledge.”
He was entered into the awards by line manager David Fielding who told of the important role Pym had played in developing the apprenticeship programme and described his work ethic as ‘second to none.’
In his submission, Commercial Manager David said:
“The main reason Pym stands out as a rising star is due to his level-headed approach to problem solving, measured communication skills, and appetite for learning. These same characteristics also represent an exponential return on the investment being made by Highways England, and which in Pym has already produced a highly skilled asset and custodian of public money. What’s most exciting is that we can see there is still plenty more to come.”
Highways England currently has 74 apprentices in a variety of roles across the business. To find out more about the scheme visit: https://careers.highwaysengland.co.uk/graduates-and-apprenticeships/apprenticeships/