Ciara Szyman

Ciara Szyman

Transport Planner

Former student, Ciara Szyman, is the first-ever Transport Planning Technician Apprentice from Leeds College of Building to progress to a postgraduate degree in the specialism.

After completing her dissertation, Ciara was awarded an MSc in Transportation Planning & Engineering (Operations) with Distinction from the University of Southampton in December.

Ciara initially enrolled at the College as part of the first cohort of Transport Planning Technician Apprentices from 2016-2018. As a unique and specialist programme, the course attracts apprentices from across the UK, including Ciara from Wolverhampton.

Ciara said:

“I left school at 16 and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I did an apprenticeship which didn’t have much use for me, and I flitted between jobs. By 21, my friends were finishing university and had their futures mapped out. I decided I wanted to do something which would lead to a fulfilling career like that and not just a job.

“At that point, I saw a Transport Planning Apprenticeship advertised at SYSTRA Ltd – the engineering and consulting specialists. I was unsure what it involved as I knew nothing about the industry but decided to give it a go. It was a great decision as I love what I do now."

Ciara achieved her BTEC Diploma in 2018. She then progressed from Level 3 to Level 7 qualifications in just five years, which is a phenomenal achievement. Ciara now works in Bristol for ARUP - the professional services and sustainable development firm of 16,000 designers, advisors, and experts working across 140 countries.

Ciara continued:

“The College Apprenticeship covered lots of topics and gave me a broad understanding of Transport Planning. More women are entering this field. My training at the College was quite balanced with about a third of apprentices being female, but the question is how we make this happen faster."

“We need to show girls at a younger age the broad range of career options available to them. Transport Planning is for absolutely everyone. There’s fascinating complexity to it, which can involve detailed analysis or strategic thinking and various specialisms from engineering to community engagement or sustainability.”

"Ciara's academic achievement to rise form Level 3 Diploma to Level 7 Masters in just five years is totally unprecedented. It shows what can potentially be achieved by academically minded young women in the Transport Planning industry - turning initial Apprenticeship opportunity into great success. She now has a superb career ahead of her if she stays in the Transport Planning industry."

Dr Paul E. Firmin, one of Ciara’s Lecturers in Transport Planning