Early Careers Programme
Shortlisted for the Next Generation Award
Each year Arup welcomes a significant number of apprentices and graduates to create a diverse talent pipeline. In 2022, this comprised 71 Apprentices and 323 Graduates, which was our highest ever intake. This is underpinned by a carefully planned programme to attract, recruit, onboard and develop our early career members in the UK, recognising the importance we place on nurturing the next generation of professionals within the Environment and Sustainability (E&S) consulting sector.
We operate an ‘open door’ recruitment policy which is inclusive of every university and college across the UK. We centre our attraction strategy on virtual events (e.g. online careers fairs hosted through our event platform Hopin), enabling us to encourage interest and applications from all relevant courses. This approach has improved the diversity of our application pool.
We recognise the value of engaging with students and give project-/topic-specific talks and lectures at schools, colleges and universities as well as attend career fairs and workshops. Arup’s Climate and Sustainability Services (CSS) team have supported university lecturing at Reading, Imperial College, UCL, Leeds, Southampton, Plymouth, East Anglia and Greenwich during 2022. Arup also supervises masters dissertation students, funds PhDs and has a paid internship programme enabling early career professionals to bridge the gap between academia and consultancy.
Each year, our network of 470+ STEM Ambassadors support various activities at schools and colleges nationally, as well as host networking events with The Prince’s Trust to support social mobility outreach in some of the most disadvantaged communities. We continue to work with the Future of London Emerging Talent Programme to encourage ethnic minority candidates into the regeneration sector, and annually organise and sponsor a Future Female Engineers event, providing employability support to over 100 female students.
Our community engagement programme seeks to support a more sustainably developed world and through pro-bono services and partnership work, we deliver hundreds of such projects each year in a wide range of countries. Working with ‘We Rise’, an award-winning London based youth engagement programme, we help empower young people to embark on career journeys within the sustainability consulting sector (see supplementary information 1.1). Over the last four years we have delivered innovative targeted projects and programmes for disadvantaged local people aged 13-19 growing up in our community, offering valuable experience and insight to support their transition from school into work.
To support the development of the next generation of environmental professionals, Arup formed part of the ‘Trailblazer’ employer group, producing the Level 6 Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship Standard, now endorsed by the Green Apprenticeship Advisory Panel working on behalf of the UK Government’s Green Jobs Taskforce. We recognise that environmental consultancies typically employ university graduates and there are limited opportunities for those from more diverse backgrounds. Arup helped establish the knowledge, skills and behavioural competencies expected from Apprentices following the five-year scheme, and since the launch of the Degree Apprenticeship in 2019, have gone on to hire six full time.
Our recruitment process is underpinned by our ‘Global Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy’ and our ‘Nine commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion’ (see supplementary information 1.2) which support recruitment of people from a wide range of backgrounds. We include a statement regarding our diverse workplace on our UK vacancy descriptions (see supplementary information 1.3) and we continuously review our recruitment policy, process and practice for any barriers that could inadvertently exclude any under-represented groups. Actions relevant to our Early Careers recruitment ranges from programmatic advertising to extensive internal training for all staff with hiring responsibilities (see supplementary information 1.4)
In 2022 we were awarded ‘Silver’ status by the National Inclusion Standard.
Prior to assessment centres, our Apprentice, Graduate and Intern candidates have pre-interview meetings with our recruitment team to help them feel comfortable and know what to expect. This helps those who do not have interview experience. Candidates can review virtual scans of our UK offices and information on projects, teams and Arup on their assessment portals at any time prior to assessment centres, along with further information to help them prepare and gain valuable insight into their assessment day. On the interview / assessment day, the early careers candidates receive a 1-on-1 tour to help them understand day-to-day life at Arup.
Our pre-boarding process is designed to help our early career members feel comfortable and confident from day 1, setting them up for immediate and long-term success. Delivered through our Early Careers Welcome Programme, the ‘Welcome Experience’ includes:
Virtual Engagement Events allowing new members to meet each other and colleagues to begin to understand what life is like at Arup.
Access to the New Apprentice / Graduate Portal with lots of information about Arup, our portfolios / teams, relocation advice, FAQs etc several months prior to first day.
A ‘Buddy’ who makes contact prior to first day to provide support and help pave the way for a smooth onboarding process.
Conversation cafes to encourage social bonds between the Apprentice and Graduate cohorts.
To drive consistent good practice, we have produced a series of internal ‘guides’ for mentors, including Line Managers and Buddies, providing practical advice for supporting Apprentice / Graduate onboarding.
“Pre-onboarding was great. My Buddy reached out to me and answered all of my questions, and my manager did too. That really made me feel comfortable starting and helped me enjoy my first month here.” - Gwenllian Thomas, Arup Graduate 2022
Our Welcome Programme ensures that all early careers members have a consistent joining experience. The ‘Week One Programme’ (time spent in Arup offices and at home) helps our new members navigate the organisation, understand our structure, culture and ethos, and importantly, meet each other face-to-face. This comprehensive induction includes communication on our policies, codes of practice, guidance and toolkits, staff network groups and includes information on our EDI approach.
All early careers members are given a Manager to provide 1:1 support regarding workload, welfare and development. Recognising the challenges with recruitment and retention of early careers professionals within the E&S sector, the Arup CSS team in London is piloting additional onboarding measures. Here a separate Early Careers Team (ECT) comprising 26 early careers members and 11 line managers (equating to 22% of CSS members in London) has been established to ensure that we have a standardised and consistent approach to managing, supporting and developing our early careers members. Each new early career members has two managers who work closely together to provide a holistic support system: A Technical Manager who supports on workload and technical queries, and Line Manager who provides overarching line management and pastoral care through. regular 1:1 meetings (weekly to begin with moving to fortnightly once the individual has settled in). Through ECT, new starters are also given access to Team Introductions and a New Starter Pack, which provide a one-stop summary of useful day-to-day information about working at Arup.
Retain and retrain
Our Apprentices and Graduates do not have probation periods, are offered immediate project responsibilities and an access to a wealth of resources to support their development, enabling them to full immerse themselves in working life. Resources include Arup University courses and nuanced skills networks (e.g. ‘Environment and Biodiversity’), enabling continued learning, connection and innovation.
As an employee-owned firm, Arup is free to devote a substantial proportion of our income to improving technical standards, continuous professional development, research and thought leadership. Our Invest in Arup and Arup Ventures programmes offer members the opportunity to fund research and launch initiatives with transformative sustainable impact, helping our E&S specialists pursue ideas in areas where they want to make a difference.
As part of the pilot in London early careers members rotate between three technical teams to give them broad exposure to different technical specialisms within environmental consultancy (initiative commenced in 2022). Supported by their Technical Managers, Line Managers and Buddy, it allows them to develop knowledge and well-rounded experience in a range of disciplines before they choose their specialism. The investment in this pilot rotation demonstrates our commitment to developing the next generation of well-rounded consultants in the E&S sector.
Additional initiatives under the pilot include:
Monthly early careers forum to discuss any issues (feedback goes directly to CSS Directors).
Regular dedicated confidential feedback sessions between Apprentices / Graduates and senior colleagues.
ECT Line Managers regularly sharing experiences and learning.
Dedicated chartership support champion including for early qualifications such as PIEMA.
When we have E&S vacancies we welcome internal applications from those who wish to retrain in environmental disciplines, recognising the value of transferable skills (e.g. project management), supported by training and guidance to develop the required technical knowledge.
Arup has EDI measures in place to ensure opportunity, growth and development for all, again intended to help us retain our talented staff, including community networks, reverse mentorship and extensive programmes (see supplementary information 1.5).
We are proud to regularly feature as one of the top UK employers of Apprentices, Graduates and Interns, as well as within Glassdoor’s top 10 workplaces in 2023.