SERC apprentices prove that they are making a difference

Students at the South Eastern Regional College are proving how valuable an apprenticeship can be when it comes to building your career.
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During Apprentice Week, some of the local students shared their stories and encouraged others to consider taking on an apprenticeship.

When Andrew Reain left school, he knew he wanted a trade and was considering his options for a career in electrical, mechanical, or plumbing.

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Having decided on plumbing, the young man is on route to completing his Level 3 NI Apprenticeship in Plumbing and is set for a career which has included picking up some ‘World Skills’ along the way.

A change of career for SERC apprentice Mark BowringA change of career for SERC apprentice Mark Bowring
A change of career for SERC apprentice Mark Bowring

Andrew (18) from Dromara, progressed to SERC from Dromore High School after his GCSEs. He said, “I wanted to progress and had been looking at my options. I secured employment with Vincent Cunningham Contractors Ltd, based in Dromore and successfully completed my Level 2 Apprenticeship NI in Plumbing with SERC, and am progressing now with my Level 3.

"I am enjoying the apprenticeship and am glad I decided on this route. I feel like I am learning every day and progressing all the time plus I am earning whilst I learn – the perfect combination.”

Moving from school to an apprenticeship has proved the right move for Isaac Harper, whose role in looking after the machinery used to develop and keep top sports grounds ahead of the game.

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Isaac (18) from Dromara is a South Eastern Regional College (SERC) Level 3 Land Based Engineering apprentice, employed by Tony Patterson Sports Grounds Ltd.

SERC apprentice Shea CunninghamSERC apprentice Shea Cunningham
SERC apprentice Shea Cunningham

He said, “I did my GCSEs at Dromore High School before progressing to the Level 2 in Land Based Engineering. I was also able to repeat some of my GCSEs alongside the course before progressing onto the Level 3. I have always liked working with my hands and doing practical things, so the apprenticeship was suited to my skills.

“I enjoy the variety of the work. Some days I might be working on something independently or another day might be out at a site. If you like variety, then I would recommend the apprenticeship route."

After a false start, due to the impact of the pandemic, a young apprentice is making a career for himself with a Land Based Engineering Apprenticeship.

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Shea Cunningham (20), from Dromore, progressed from St Patrick’s in Banbridge to commence a Level 3 Land Based Engineering Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship led to Worldskills success for Andrew ReainApprenticeship led to Worldskills success for Andrew Reain
Apprenticeship led to Worldskills success for Andrew Reain

He said: “I come from a farming background and have always been in and around tractors helping my dad, William, on the dairy farm, cleaning out the cow shed and all the usual chores, so the Land Based Engineering Apprenticeship seemed the obvious choice for me.

“I love the variety of the job. It’s the perfect role for me as I like working with my hands and am best suited to practical work."

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SERC students show off their Worldskills medal haul

If you thought all apprentices were for school leavers think again. Mark Bowring (40) is one of a number of people who have switched career and are retraining through a public sector funded apprenticeship.

Isaac Harper shares his story during Apprentice WeekIsaac Harper shares his story during Apprentice Week
Isaac Harper shares his story during Apprentice Week
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Mark is completing a Level 2 Heavy Vehicle apprenticeship with SERC and is employed by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council (LCCC).

He said, “I had worked with Translink for over 12 years, but I wanted to try something new. "

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