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SERC Apprentice Lauren Finalist in NI Apprenticeship Awards 2022

picture of Lauren Johnston

South Eastern Regional College (SERC) apprentice, Lauren Johnston is a finalist in the Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards, which recognise excellence in apprenticeships.  Winners will be announced at an Awards Ceremony streamed on YouTube at 3.00 pm on Wednesday 9 February 2022 at

Lauren (23), from Ballygowan, is completing the Level 3 Engineering Apprenticeship at SERC’s Lisburn Campus and is employed by Diageo at their beer packaging site in Belfast. The young woman is one of three finalists in the Apprentice category of the Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards, a key part of the Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week 7 – 11 February, led by Department of Economy.

Lauren previously studied early years at university and worked full-time at a special education needs school before taking steps for a career change. She said, “Following a career break which involved travel, I knew on my return I wanted a change in my career direction.  The major turning point was when I took on a renovation project for my house, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The experience and new skills I gained from the hands-on work spurred me on to take the leap.” 

She added, “When I discovered that Diageo were recruiting for apprentices, I jumped at the opportunity to apply and was delighted to successfully secure a position. Since then, I have completed the Level 2 Performing Engineering Operations and am currently on the Level 3 Apprenticeship in Engineering through SERC and working in Mechatronics in Diageo Belfast Packaging.”

“Throughout the apprenticeship programme the units I am studying are linked to jobs I carry out in the workplace, so my confidence, skills and knowledge continue to grow.  My role as an apprentice engineer with Diageo has allowed me to gain experience in both mechanical and electrical engineering. The blended learning approach you get through an apprenticeship is a great way to further your knowledge and develop skills on the job. My plan is to progress to a Level 5 Foundation Degree in Mechatronics, which will allow me to progress within the company.

She concluded, “I am delighted to have been nominated for the Award and to be a finalist.   It gives me the opportunity to share my apprenticeship journey and to encourage others to consider this route, which is proving successful for my own career ambitions.”

Ivan Kelly, Engineering Lecturer at SERC said, “We are thrilled that Lauren is a finalist for the NI Apprenticeship Awards.   She is a credit to herself, and the College and we are looking forward to cheering her on at the awards.  She is testament to how the apprenticeship route can help take someone with determination on a career path that combines sought-after skills, knowledge and qualifications with employment.”  

Liz Dunlop, Training & Capability Manager at Diageo’s Belfast Packaging site said, “We are delighted that Lauren is a finalist for the NI Apprenticeship Awards. Lauren demonstrates brilliant ownership in her role and consistently delivers great performances in everything she is involved in. Lauren has established good relationships and is a well-respected and valued member of her team. She has gained confidence in her abilities and embraces the challenges within her role. With her energy, willingness to learn and her commitment to personal development we are lucky to have Lauren as part of our team in Diageo.”

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