Full–time university became the fall–back option. A parents perspective.

By Kathryn Kirk

George Armstrong’s son, Ryan (right), is currently doing an HLA with AECOM. George shares his story from a parent’s perspective and how applying for an apprenticeship became Ryan’s main focus.

It seems a funny thing to say that full–time university became Ryan’s fall–back option but that will give some insight into the journey I took with my son as he started to consider his next step after school.

Ryan attended a grammar school in Belfast. He was a high academic achiever with a can–do attitude. Workplus visited the school one day and then took an extra class which Ryan was in – it was after that he really got serious about doing an HLA.

As a parent, you’re keen to journey with your children so we talked at length about it. I run a start–up business myself so I’m very familiar about the importance and place of ‘learning on the job’ but I was still keen to know more. The more I looked into it, the more I felt this would be a great option for him.

And so, Ryan applied to Workplus. He was interviewed by a couple of companies and chose an apprenticeship with AECOM. Ryan hasn’t looked back and I couldn’t be happier for him. 

“I can honestly say it couldn’t be better.”

I think in Northern Ireland we can have an old–fashioned idea of apprenticeships but, in truth, they’ve come such a long way in a short time. My son will be emerging in seven years’ time with a degree, the experience to match and no student debt. He’ll be working towards in Chartership in tandem with his HLA which is an added bonus to doing an apprenticeship.

Ryan is attending university each week and working in a really supportive team doing fantastic projects. I’ve seen how good this has been for him.

Ultimately, all you want for your children is them to be happy and doing something they enjoy.

Now my younger son is champing at the bit to do an apprenticeship!

Hear more from George as he took part in a Meet the Parents panel in the video below:

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