Charlie is Blazing a Trail for Apprenticeships

0 min read

08 February 2024

Charlie Clarke Level 3 Engineering Apprentice

Charlie Clarke, a Level 3 Apprentice NI in Mechanical Engineering with South Eastern Regional College employed by Lakeland Dairies, sets the story straight on why the apprenticeship route was more suitable for her than heading to university to study engineering.

Charlie, (19), from Bangor, said, “I completed A-levels in Maths, Physics and Technology, but really struggled just sitting in the classroom during my final year at school and realised that the university route was not going to suit me. My brother had progressed to SERC and had no hesitation recommending the College. He felt the hands-on, practical aspects of further education would suit my style of learning. I have always been interested in cars and how things work, so I applied for a number of engineering courses, including apprenticeships, and when I came into the College for an interview and saw the facilities, I knew I was on the right track."

“I successfully completed a Level 2 Apprenticeship NI in Engineering, and I am currently completing my Level 3 Apprenticeship NI in Engineering, both through SERC, whilst employed by Lakeland Dairies at their Newtownards plant. I have been told I was the first female engineering apprentice with Lakeland, so I am keen to blaze a trail for those who follow." 

“The most enjoyable part of the apprenticeship is being in the workplace. All the theory I am gaining in college, supports the knowledge and experience I am acquiring in the workplace. The combination of classroom and workplace learning means I have a comprehensive understanding of engineering, as I continually progress and build on my skills. The work is varied, interesting, and every day is different. My role involves learning about and working with all the production machinery in Lakeland Dairies. As you can imagine, it is vital that everything runs efficiently and smoothly to ensure the production schedules are met.   Now that I have a bit more experience, I am doing more work on my own, such as planned maintenance on different machines.   It is great to see your skills and experience grow as you progress through the apprenticeship and this is reflected in the responsibility that you are given at work."

“I also have a mentor in the workplace, so if I have any issues or need clarification on anything regarding my apprenticeship, I can link with them which is reassuring." “I would certainly recommend the apprenticeship route. The combination of workplace and college is the best way to get to grips with learning. It has been great moving on from school too. The facilities and lecturers at SERC are great, you do have to take responsibility for your learning, but there is a lot of support and you do have a bit of a laugh too - proof that learning can be fun.”

Would-be apprentices are invited to SERC’s Apprenticeships - All You Need to Know sessions 4.30 – 7.00pm on Thursday 8 February (Downpatrick and Lisburn Campuses) during Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week.

As apprenticeships run from different campuses, visitors should check the different sessions to see what runs where in preparation for their visit: Click Here