Liam Harrison is a Market Director for Atkins' Infrastructure division and is responsible for developing business around the UK’s biggest schemes such as the Northern Powerhouse, Crossrail 2 and the regeneration of Old Oak Common.
In 2012 Liam was responsible for developing an Olympic skills legacy which led to a collaboration with Citizens UK in East London and the development of the Pathways to Engineering scheme.
Could you please tell us about yourself, your role at Atkins and you career path.
I have been with Atkins for 12 years now and am currently responsible for for developing and delivering business in the rail and transport orientated design market areas. I’ve had quite a varied career and have been fortunate to be able to move around and try different things such as buildings and highways, so I’ve had a lot of fun at Atkins.
Can you tell us why Atkins are working with Citizens UK on the Good Jobs Campaign?
It started in 2012 – Atkins was working on the London 2012 Olympic Park project, which was hugely beneficial to a lot of our staff. We wanted to extend these skill development benefits and work with the local community. We started to develop engineering internships with Citizens UK, which has since grown into Pathways to Engineering, a broader way of getting young people interested in science, technology, engineering and maths.
What kind of feedback have you received so far from you colleagues who are taking part in Pathways to Engineering?
It’s all been hugely enthusiastic – our staff are driven by wanting to help young people at the start of their careers and they’ve found their involvement really rewarding. Over the last few years we have been able to better understand the challenges of getting young people into work these days. A lot of our graduates are getting a great benefit out of this - by giving something back, generating interest in STEM and encouraging more diverse groups to pursue an engineering career. Our ultimate goal is having an industry that reflects the fabric of the communities we’re working with.
How would you describe a Good Job?
For me a good job is something that gives the employee an insight into how their career might grow. It is about getting someone on the career ladder and helping them develop their skills.
As an employer, what are some of the challenges when recruiting within the engineering industry?
For various historic reasons the engineering sector has always had less women and not been particularly diverse in background. This is a problem and limits the fresh new skills and ideas coming into the industry. Pathways to Engineering is allowing us to reach out to a broader community and attract skills we have never been able to attract previously.
What are some of the benefits Pathways to Engineering can bring to Atkins?
For our ambassadors who get involved in the programme, it’s a great opportunity to develop their communication skills. Young people can be a tough audience, you have to win them over and present in a compelling way, and that is what we are trying to do, to demonstrate to them that this is actually a fulfilling job and career. Our teams are learning how to sell the benefits of engineering, something they will have to do with clients in the future.
As a company, the aim is to attract some of these young people as employees longer term, gaining their energy, ideas and talent to continue delivering world leading projects.
Citizens UK’s Good Jobs Campaign works with schools and colleges in disadvantaged communities and employers in high skill sectors to create new high quality training pathways into good jobs for young people. To find out more about our work, see our programmes page.