“Using our loaf to prove the right approach to early careers”

Career potential is like dough. Given the right mix of ingredients, flour, salt, yeast and water will become bread. But the quality of those ingredients and how they are combined, proved, shaped and baked makes all the difference to the loaf you’ll end up with.

As such, this National Apprenticeship Week, we caught up with the Chair of our Early Careers Development Programme Committee, Jordan Knapp, as he shares his own career journey from Apprentice to Engineering Delivery Manager, and how Morson Projects came to develop the programme, which is at the heart of so many of our team’s career journeys…

“I first joined Morson Projects at nineteen, fresh from sitting my A-levels, when I was appointed as the first Apprentice for our Hull office. I attended college on day release to study Mechanical Engineering, while working on live projects alongside colleagues who mentored and supported me the rest of the week. At the time, I was the only apprentice amongst 33 experienced engineers, and I was empowered by them to step up and make my voice heard during design reviews – a hugely important part of learning to contribute, take ownership of my role on the project, and prepare for leadership.

“Through my own ambition and hard work I later gained a Mechanical Engineering degree while working in those first years of my career. But achieving that while becoming an experienced professional who could bring ideas to the table and add value to client relationships was also thanks to the knowledge and encouragement I received from my colleagues.

“Those principles lie at the heart of Morson’s Early Careers Development Programme (ECDP). As Chair of the ECDP Committee and the Founder of the programme as we know it today, I have combined my own early careers experience with an understanding of what we need from the next generation of professionals, and an insight into our clients’ requirements to ensure that every early careers employee is both supported and challenged. Why? Because like the bread dough analogy, the ingredients they bring to Morson need to be both shaped and nurtured to get the best results.”

“Coaching has always been part of who I am and how I interact with others.

Outside of my career I have coached tennis and rugby. Having furthered my coaching skills as part of a management course, and become a certified trainer, I knew that upskilling the experienced engineers and managers in our teams to support early careers colleagues was just as important as challenging our early careers recruits to achieve.”

“When Covid struck, and our teams, like so many others, were mandated to work from home, the potential for organic knowledge sharing and mentoring became one of the perks of office life we had to relinquish. It became clear that a more formalised approach was needed; not only for the strange times we were living through during lockdown, but also to enable us to develop the next generation of talent aligned to both our predicted growth and team development.

“The ECDP Committee and I didn’t want the programme to be a one-size-fits all, tick box exercise. It had to be people-focused, enabling individuals to reach core competency milestones at their own pace and in their own way, supported and challenged by individuals equipped for that responsibility. That’s why we have trained 84 mentors across the business, why we have put ECDP co-ordinators in place to advise and support, and why we have a structure that is clear, goal-oriented, and achievable.

“Attracting and retaining talent is critical for delivering our current client commitments and growing our capabilities sustainably in the years ahead. Embracing that future talent means empowering people, and we have developed a proven ECDP methodology so successful that it has been rolled out beyond our engineers to all departments. We’re even advising clients on their own ECDPs!

“When an individual begins a new career, they don’t want a job; they want a future. Here at Morson Projects, our ECDP provides a tangible picture of what that future can look like, and the steps needed to reach their career destination, along with the guidance of those who have plotted the same journey to success.”

Find out more about our Early Careers Development Programme >