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Careers spotlight: A future in Engineering

24 January 2024

In the UK, almost 7 million people work in the engineering sector. This is around 18% of the UK workforce. This is consistent across the UK, with a slightly higher than average proportion working in engineering in Yorkshire and the Humber at 19%.

General sharers engineering 1 1

Engineering is a sector that has an impressive number of educated people working in it. Around 1-in-3 of those working in engineering have a degree or higher, and a further 1-in-3 have attained at A-Level or equivalent.


From 2010 to 2019 the number of people working in the engineering sector in the UK has grown by 14.1% During this period, Yorkshire and the Humber saw a bigger than average increase at 17.6%. The covid pandemic saw a decrease in all areas of the UK in people working in engineering, but those numbers are steadily increasing again.(source:

One such company who have been recruiting more people to work in engineering is Spencer Group which has a number of apprentices and graduates in a variety of roles, all crucial in forming the engineering workforce of the future.

Spencer Group is a Civil Engineering Company, located on Hull Marina with various site locations across the UK. Spencer Group specialise in the design and build of complex multi-disciplinary engineering projects, working across the UK’s rail network, maintaining suspension and multi-span bridges, providing materials handling and bulk storage solutions and working on power generation facilities.

Here, we are taking a look at Matthew Hunter, Assistant Quantity Surveyor, Matthew Kavanagh, Project Manager, and Alex Burr, Trainee Engineer to find out more about their journey so far with Spencer Group and their career in engineering.


Matthew H: I came across Spencer Group through my College. I attended Ron Dearing UTC for sixth form, a brand-new college in Hull at the time. Ron Dearing UTC works in partnership with the University of Hull and the region’s leading employers, providing employer-led education. Spencer Group is one of the founding partners of the UTC, meaning throughout my learning I was exposed to Spencer Group and the type of work they undertake.

I attended Sixth Form at Ron Dearing UTC for two years, in this time being exposed to mock interviews, CV writing workshops and Employer Expos. During my final year, I applied for work experience at Spencer Group, which I successfully achieved. This gave me a first-person insight into Spencer Group, meeting the team and getting a feel for working life. At the end of my time at the UTC I applied for a job as an Engineering apprentice. This included an interview and assessment day, where a group of applicants were assessed by the Spencer team. As a result of this I found I was successful and was given the opportunity to have an apprenticeship at Spencer Group.

Matty hunter spencer group

Matthew K: I started as an apprentice electrician and through my career have progressed through various roles, currently holding the position of project manager. I have progressed from my initial NVQ3 apprenticeship whilst working to complete my HNC, HND and degree.

Alex: The company take in cohorts of apprentices from Ron Dearing UTC where I studied an Extended Diploma in Engineering, Spencer Group works closely with Ron Dearing UTC to produce valuable young engineers that will progress into the industry.


Matthew H: My Engineering apprenticeship lasted two years, where I rotated around the whole business, experiencing all the different departments, and meeting the various teams. This included Commercial, Site, Design, Health & Safety and many more.

At the end of my apprenticeship, I was given the opportunity to join the commercial team as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor, which I accepted as this was my preferred section of my apprenticeship rotation. This landed me where I am today, two years on as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor at Spencer Group and with promotion to Assistant QS in September 2023.

Moving forward, I am starting university studies soon and I aim to achieve a degree in Quantity Surveying and gain RICS accreditation.

Alex: When I started my apprenticeship, I undertook a rotation between departments in the business to develop my skills and widen my knowledge through all construction processes. This has helped me throughout my time at Spencer Group as now I have found my pathway in off-site engineering, I understand all the pre-site process and also the construction phase processes that are all vital to the success of the works.

Alex b of spencer group


Matthew H: The favorite part of my job is the site-based working alongside interactions with external businesses. As part of my job, I am often on site, working with the site team and seeing the project develop firsthand. This is something I really enjoy as it’s satisfying seeing the works develop over time.

I also really enjoy working with external businesses. Part of my job includes assessing works completed by subcontractors and finding subcontractors to work on our projects. This means I get to work closely with the site team to evaluate works done on site, tracking and monitoring costs, as well as sourcing local suppliers and contractors. Overall, I really enjoy the cost management and procurement elements of my job.

Alex: I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in my apprenticeship, having learnt valuable lessons on and off site, working under mentors who have such a wide range of experience, getting to learn from knowledge and from time spent working on projects to challenge myself.

Matthew K: I enjoy finding solutions to problems for clients and offering them solutions. Also, seeing a project through to completion from inception to handover.

Matt kavanagh


Alex: The industry is so broad and the pathways that can be taken under the engineering category are extensive and interesting. You need a determination to learn and adapt with the different techniques for each unique project and sector, Have an open mind to each principle and process as they are all important to the job and to develop into a well-rounded engineer.

Matthew K: I am a believer that initial hands-on experience provides great insight to challenges at site level for later career progression. People should not be afraid to ask questions; the industry is very inclusive and people are happy to share their knowledge to progress the next generation.

Matthew H: I would recommend University Technical Colleges (UTCs) as they provide a great insight into working life and allow you to work alongside employers. The type of work you do at UTCs is tailored by those in the industry, helping prepare you for working life.

Additionally, I would stress that not knowing where you want to work within engineering is not a bad thing. Aim to find an opportunity which allows you to try various departments within a business, as this will give you a better understanding of what you like and where you may potentially want to work. In my case, I wanted to be a designer at college, however through my apprenticeship rotation at Spencer Group I found that a career within the commercial team as a Quantity Surveyor was better suited to me. Without the rotation I would have never discovered this. The opportunity of “try before you buy” was useful to me and can help you to shape your future pathway.

The engineering industry is a very broad industry which means there are vast opportunities and job types in the industry. So, if you are unsure where you would like to work, give some a try, and decide from your experiences.

Thank you to Spencer Group and to Matt H, Matt K and Alex for their time in telling us all about their journey so far, and for their advice for budding engineers. We wish them every success in their careers and look forward to hearing from them again in the future.

You can learn more about Spencer Group and the apprenticeships and graduate jobs available at

You can learn more about Talent+, the skills and talent development programme provided by Bondholders for Humber based talent of all ages at

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