Foster + Partners and RIBA launch UK's first architecture apprenticeships
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Foster + Partners works with RIBA to launch UK's first architecture apprenticeships

Architecture apprenticeships will be made available to UK students for the first time this year, thanks to an initiative from the RIBA and a group of architecture practices led by Foster + Partners.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) worked with a "trailblazer group" of 20 British studios to develop the apprenticeships, which offer a new route to qualifying as an architect in the UK.

Two apprenticeships have been approved by the Institute of Apprenticeships. The first will allow students to achieve the Part-I accreditation, to become architectural assistants, while the second is for the Part-II and Part-III qualifications, to become accredited as an architect.

Apprenticeships to be available from September 2018

Both apprenticeship programmes will be available from September 2018 and last four years.

"This vital initiative will help us to improve the diversity of our profession, to attract young people to study architecture, and provide more accessible routes to qualification and employment opportunities," said RIBA president Ben Derbyshire.

"The exposure to contemporary architectural business will be a major benefit for students, and practices will also benefit from the challenge of a new commitment to developing talent."

Courses combine practical experience with academic training

The two apprenticeships were developed over a period of 18 months by RIBA and architects co-ordinated by Peter Garstecki of Foster + Partners.

The leading British practices that helped develop the apprenticeships including Hawkins/Brown, BDP, Grimshaw, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, HOK, Stanton Williams and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM).

The new route to qualification will combine practical experience in the workplace with academic training that will be provided by universities that offer ARB-accredited qualifications.

"The apprenticeships have been set up to improve the link between practice and academia, while also contributing to improving diversity in the profession," said a statement from Foster+ Partners.

Initiative will make studying architecture more accessible

The move is likely to be welcomed by architects and architectural educators, many of whom have previously called for alternative routes into architecture, to encourage more applications from students with under-privileged backgrounds.

Among them is Robert Mull, head of architecture and design at the University of Brighton, and Will Hunter, founder of the London School of Architecture.

Like other apprentices in the UK, those on the architecture apprenticeships will not need to pay university tuition fees and will be paid a salary.

"Adding this new route to the existing range of RIBA validated full- and part-time and practice-based options for studying architecture is an excellent step in creating a profession that's far more accessible to young people from any background," added Derbyshire, "and I am excited to work with our practices going forward as we put the wheels in motion and follow the journeys of the very first architecture apprentices."