From education to employment

John’s Reaching New Heights through Innovate Us at SERC


John Braniff’s world was turned upside down when he was furloughed and made redundant last August.   But the Saintfield man has turned a hobby into a business by building on his experience from the construction industry and accessing support from Down Business Centre and (@SERC) to take him to the next level.

John (44), who is married to Jane, with three children said, “I had worked in the construction industry for over 20 years and had thought it was my job for life. But when the pandemic struck, I was furloughed and then made redundant.   It was a shock, and my world was turned upside down.

“I had an interest in drones and had purchased one which I had been using as a hobby, but I knew there was potential to use drones for crowd control or site inspections, drawing on my experience from the construction industry.

“Initially, I started exploring upskilling myself and completed an enterprise course with Down Business Centre last September.   Following that I contacted SERC’s careers team.   I completed a Train the Trainer and Project Management course and was then put in touch with their business services team who helped me to access mentoring support through the Department for Economy’s Innovate Us programme to develop my new business start-up Fly High Inspections.  I have also completed a Social Media programme with the College which has been tremendous at upskilling someone who didn’t have the foggiest idea about social media.

“Basically, Fly High Inspections offer visual inspections, video or photography, of inaccessible areas for clients.   It can help with maintenance for private or commercial buildings, the latter of which require an annual inspection.   We offer a full inspection report which can support planned or necessary maintenance programmes.

“The aerial view also adds to the marketing of many services including leisure activities for tourism or for the private client who wants to add that special element to their wedding video.

John is licensed to carry out aerial photography by the Civil Aviation Authority. He added, “Having successfully completed training and gained my licence to operate a drone for aerial photography means that I am competent in the use of the drone and qualified to carry out necessary risk assessment for such work and offer a professional service.

John concluded, “An aerial inspection is a fraction of the cost compared to hiring access equipment or scaffolding, never mind the dangers with working at heights. The use of a drone/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle regularly will allow you compare and monitor your buildings, facilities and assets.

Michael Jones, Business Mentor at SERC said,

“This is an innovative use of latest technology to help organisations to plan their maintenance and avoid later problems at a fraction of normal costs.”

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