From education to employment

Nathan finds key to success on Engineering Apprenticeship

SERC apprentice Nathan McCabe from Drumaroad, currently studying on the Level 3 Engineering Apprenticeship at SERC’s Downpatrick campus has found the route to his chosen pathway despite facing adversity.

Nathan, (19) attended St Malachy’s High School in Castlewellan and joined SERC in 2019; completing the Level 2 Vehicle Maintenance and Repair skills for work course. Facing many challenges along the way due to a disability, the young man has found a new passion in engineering, recently starting a life changing apprenticeship to secure his career potential.

Reflecting on his experience, Nathan says:

“After completing my GCSEs, my main ambition was to have a trade behind me while earning an income. After speaking to a few friends who had recommended SERC, I felt that it would be the perfect place to help me to achieve this goal. I originally studied on the Level 2 Vehicle Maintenance and Repair course at the Downpatrick Campus, and right from the beginning I felt very supported by the College who accommodated my disability and provided excellent facilities.”

Nathan continues, “Being confined to a wheelchair created some practical challenges for me during this course however, such as carrying out the everyday practical work of a mechanic and being unable to secure an employer. Luckily, I was able to carry out my placement at the College’s Lisburn Campus, which involved training on reclaimed and workshop vehicles and learning to remove and refit components. My technical support officer, Terry Hickland was fantastic in teaching me many skills, including first steps in welding and fabrication. Although these skills were not part of my course content, I thoroughly enjoyed developing them.”

“After I completed the Level 2 in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, I struggled to secure employment and was very unsure of what my future held in store for me. Holding on to my interest in welding and fabrication, I decided to explore the engineering apprenticeship route at SERC.   I successfully secured the position of a bench welder at Walter Watsons Limited, and I am now completing my Level 3 Engineering Apprenticeship. My main duties include creating components and doing wiring, which has been fantastic, I enjoy every moment I am there. There is never a dull moment, and I look forward to taking on more responsibilities as I progress.”

Speaking about the lecturing team at SERC Nathan says:

“I would like to dedicate a special mention of thanks to Lecturer Terry Hickland for taking time and patience when introducing me to engineering and fabrication, as well as adapting the workshop to meet my needs. He was a fantastic support in helping me secure my current position.  Two other people who I would like to thank are Lecturers Andrew Cully and Hugh Kelly from the motor vehicle department who were very understanding during my studies and catered for my disability needs both in class and in the workshop, which was a great support to me.”

Concluding, Nathan says, “My overall experience at SERC, although tough at times, has been fantastic in helping me find my passion. I like all forms of engineering and challenges, and the apprenticeship route is providing me with so much valuable experience while earning an income. After I finish my course, I would love to travel to the United States to further my skills in engineering, and one day become self-employed with my own business. SERC has been an amazing starting point to launch my career, and I would highly recommend the College to anyone who is interested in developing skills in their chosen subject area or considering the apprenticeship route.”

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