From education to employment

Northern Regional College student is a step closer to dream career.

Jamie Watton

Coleraine student Jamie Watton (22), has turned his life around and gone from being a troubled teenager to an ambitious young man with a clear career goal.

Having completed a Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care at Northern Regional College(@NRCCollege) in Coleraine, Jamie progressed to do the Level 3 Extended Diploma and has been offered a place at Ulster University to study Occupational Therapy.

Prior to studying Health and Social Care at the College, Jamie took part in the Prince’s Trust programme and was the recipient of two awards, the Prince’s Trust Young Changemaker Award, which recognises young people who are inspiring others through their personal experience of turning their lives around, and the Marvel Rising Star Award, acknowledging young people who have overcome barriers to secure employment.

Jamie admitted that he had a challenging time at school, and he fell in with the wrong crowd. With his mental health deteriorating, he turned to drugs, and felt his life was spiralling out of control:

He continued:

“I have Asperser’s Syndrome, but this wasn’t diagnosed until I was older, so I spent the first 17 years of my life being angry and confused but, once I knew I have Asperger’s, I began to understand why I was acting out the way I was.”

He continued:

“Some of the smartest people in the world have Asperger’s. It’s not a disability, it’s just a different kind of ability. Once I realised that, things began to fall into place for me.”

Jamie said the Prince’s Trust programme turned out to be a major turning point of his life.

“The one-to-one goal setting sessions made me see my problems differently and helped me realise how to make the changes I needed in my life to succeed.”

As part of the Prince’s Trust programme, Jamie did a placement with Limavady Community Development Initiative (LCDI), which helps adults with physical and learning disabilities. Through the placement, he discovered a passion for helping others and, even after completing the placement, he continued to volunteer with LCDI and subsequently secured a paid role with the project. He has recently taken up a support worker role with Fairways in Coleraine, a residential facility which provides supported living accommodation for people with learning disabilities.

The positive experience Jamie enjoyed with LCDI encouraged Jamie to consider this sort of work as a career option, so his next step was to complete the Level 2 and then the Level 3 courses in Health and Social Care at Northern Regional College.

He explained that studying the health and social care at the College provided him with a learning structure he needed to achieve his career goals.

“When I left school, I started a bench joinery course at the College and although I completed the qualification, I didn’t have the passion for it to continue as a career. Studying Health and Social Care was a completely different experience for me because I was learning about a subject I was interested and wanted to learn as much as I could to help with my future career.”

Acknowledging the help and support from his College lecturers, Jamie said he is looking forward to the next chapter of his life:

“I feel I have been very well prepared for my next academic challenge and I am looking forward to going to university in September.”

“The lecturers at Northern Regional College were always helpful and encouraging. I learnt so much by doing the Level 2 and Level 3 courses. The transferable skills I developed during my time at the College are helping with my work at Fairways and they will also benefit me when I go to university.”

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