Nineteen-year-old Hannah Dunwoody, from Bangor, is singing the praises of the Higher-Level Apprenticeship route for her dream career in engineering. The young woman has been able to mix her love of all-things music and engineering through a role with internationally renowned Lowden Guitars and South Eastern Regional College (SERC) and wants to encourage others to find out more about the apprenticeship route.
Following her GCSEs, grammar school student Hannah, decided that she didn’t want to follow the traditional A Level route to university and instead opted to head to SERC to complete a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering. She said, “I completed my GCSEs and did really well. I suppose it was expected that I would pick A levels and then head to university, but I knew that working for two years to sit an examination at the end didn’t really suit my style of learning. I was set on a career on engineering, which stemmed partly from my parents’ lead working business and my own interest in how things work and are put together. Having spoken to teachers, careers advisors and after visiting South Eastern Regional College, I decided on a Diploma programme which would involve steady working over two years with real life projects, learning from professionals who have worked in the industry, access to industry standard processes and having the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills through project based learning.
She added, “The next step into a Higher-Level Apprenticeship was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned. I certainly didn’t want to be leaving university with a pile of debt before I even started working. I had heard about the Higher-Level Apprenticeship route and knew this would be good for me. I saw the job advertised for the HLA in Mechatronics at Lowden Guitars though the weekly email from SERC Careers and felt it would be a perfect fit. I play guitar, ukulele and sing so there was that instant connection through music. I applied for the role and was successful. I work four days a week at Lowden Guitars and one day a week I am South Eastern Regional College learning all the theory which I can bring back to the workplace where I am learning on the job every day. It is the best of both worlds.
She concluded, “You go to school, college and university to learn with the ultimate goal of employment – I’ve just got there a little faster through the HLA route. I’m continuing my education and learning while I’m earning, plus I will have three years’ work experience under my belt by the time I’m finished the Higher-Level Apprenticeship. That’s music to my ears.”
South Eastern Regional College are taking part in Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week, 3 to 7 February 2020. The new imitative from the Department for Economy offers an opportunity to demonstrate how apprenticeships works for individuals, businesses, communities and the wider economy.