From education to employment

Apprenticeship Route puts Matthew First Place

Matthew Blair

A friends recommendation for a career in fire and security engineering has led to a podium place at Skillbuild NI, IFSEC – the international fire and security exhibition competition – and now the WorldSkills UK finals for a South Eastern Regional College apprentice.

Matthew Blair (24), from Maghaberry,  took first place in Fire & Security Systems at Skillbuild NI 2023, and went on to represent Northern Ireland at IFSEC – the international fire and security exhibition competition – in London in June.   His win there has secured him a place in WorldSkills UK national finals in November 2023, along with two fellow apprentices from SERC.  

Following his GCSES at Wallace High School, Matthew completed a BTEC Level 3 in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, followed with a HND in Mechatronic Engineering, both at SERC.   Matthew said,

“When I finished the HND, a friend mentioned that BPS were advertising new positions, so I applied and successfully secured a post.   It was my employer in BPS who recommended the Level 3 Apprenticeship in Fire and Security Systems at SERC, so I am completing that one day a week at SERC.

The young man added, “My role as Service Technician with BPS involves carrying out maintenance, upgrading and installation of new fire alarm systems.   The job means I am out and about working all over Northern Ireland.  No two days are the same – I could be working in a healthcare trust property one day or social housing the next, so there is plenty of variety in the work.”

Speaking about studying in SERC, Matthew added,

“The tutors are dead on.   There is plenty of guidance and support if you need it.   I am in SERC one day a week and that involves more theory, practical work and progressing your portfolio or assignments.”

Matthew concluded, “I always wanted to do something hands on. All my studies and qualifications have involved practical activity which suits my style of learning.   In retrospect, I would recommend doing the apprenticeship straight after GCSEs.   I have taken a longer route to get to where I am but brought the additional experience and qualifications to the job.”

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