Apprenticeships are a win–win

By Daire Campbell

 For several years now, I had it my mind that I wanted to do an apprenticeship. When I was younger, full–time university sounded good but, as I progressed through school, I realised I was more suited to an apprenticeship. I went to St Ronan’s College in Lurgan and the careers department were very proactive about what apprenticeship opportunities were available. My friend was doing an apprenticeship and it appealed to me, so I applied through Workplus. 

Apprenticeships are a win–win. You get paid and you’re still learning. I have friends doing the same course but full–time – but I’m getting the experience and money! Yes, it takes longer, but I could be a Chartered engineer as my friends are just coming out of uni! At the moment, I am part of a group of apprentices helping each other towards Chartership.

If you like routine and working, then an apprenticeship is for you. I have university on a Friday and work Monday – Thursday. 

“My weekends are free to watch and play football.”


My good friend is in full–time university and thinks he’s got a raw deal! – he works a part–time job on evenings and weekends, while I’m free then to go to the gym and enjoy my earnings!  

Jacobs has a very nurturing culture towards apprentices. I’m being supported by other apprentices who are just a little bit ahead of me. I also have a line–manager and mentor. John, my mentor, talks me through everything including the plan for the month. He’s so supportive and always there to help. 

My working day is usually 8am – 4.30pm and it flies in. Sometimes I take a shorter lunch to work on coursework. 


“I think you only really start learning once you start work.”


 For example, when I started at Jacobs, CAD drawings were a daunting prospect and I didn’t have a clue! Now, I’m quite adept at it. There’s always colleagues willing to check my work and talk me through things. People have been so encouraging and willing to help. 

It’s great that there’s a changing culture around apprenticeships and a growing number of professional apprenticeships available. It has been the perfect move for me.

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