It’s interesting and varied…the best of both worlds!

By Kathryn Kirk

Nathan Reid, from Dromore, is in his first year of an HLA in Civil Engineering. Nathan is working in the Buildings Division at Farrans.

I attended Banbridge Academy and heard a past pupil, Oscar Daly, talk about his apprenticeship in IT. That’s what prompted me to explore apprenticeship options.

Until then, I had thought about doing a full–time degree in civil engineering but deep down I knew sitting in a classroom for another 3 or 4 years wouldn’t really suit me.  

My parents had never heard about an HLA before but when I showed them what it was – that I’d get a job, be on a good salary and get a degree at the end – they thought it was a fantastic option and encouraged me to apply.

So, I applied to Farrans through Workplus and was offered a job.

A real plus is the blend

A real plus about an apprenticeship is the blend. It’s great because you have the work as well as the student life.

I knew I didn’t want to sit at a desk all day which was why the construction side of engineering appealed. At the moment, I’m involved in a couple of projects including one down in Cork which I visit regularly. I really enjoy the travelling side of the job and very soon I’ll be starting a job in England too.

With an apprenticeship, you can see where the work ties in with your learning. You get to apply the learning and also feel you’re making a difference in the workplace. I get a lot of satisfaction from being able to apply what I’m learning at university to the site projects I’m involved in.

Farrans has a strong culture of apprenticeships. As well as having a mentor, Farrans organises induction days for apprentices, introduces us to older apprentices and are very accommodating in terms of supporting your study.

Hands–on work experience and student life

I’m really grateful that my school highlighted the apprenticeship pathway. I know it’s not for everyone but I know people doing full–time university courses who would have loved to do an apprenticeship but didn’t know about it.

I do think an apprenticeship is a better option because you’re still working towards a degree and have a taste of student life, but combined with a salary and experience of the working world.

Doing an apprenticeship has also made me manage my time well. You have to be up for the challenge – it’s busy but definitely worth it.

I have free weekends to focus on sport and catching up with friends. I play hockey for Banbridge and I’m thankful I don’t have to think about a part–time job at the weekends unlike many of friends who are doing full–time uni courses.

I’m pleased I chose this pathway – I feel very content with what I’m doing and know it has set me up for the future.


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