Andrew is NI Apprentice of the Year

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28 March 2024

Andrew Smyth, NI Apprentice of the Year, in  an engineering laboratory at SERC

South Eastern Regional College (SERC) apprentice Andrew Smyth has been named the Department for the Economy’s (DfE) Northern Ireland Apprentice of the Year.   Andrew, (25), from Ballygowan, is employed by Thales UK Ltd, where he is completing a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering. 

The annual NI Apprenticeship Awards were presented on Wednesday (27 March) at a ceremony in Titanic Belfast. 

Speaking at the presentation, Ian Snowden, Permanent Secretary at the DfE, commended the winners and said: “The Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards are an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional achievements of our apprentices, their employers and mentors, and our training providers.” 

He added: “The Department for the Economy remains dedicated to supporting and promoting apprenticeships. We want to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, has equal access to the skills and qualifications necessary to succeed. This includes addressing the specific needs of individuals from diverse backgrounds and ensuring employers have access to skilled apprentices who can contribute to their organisations.” 

Economy Minister Conor Murphy was unable to attend the awards ceremony but added his congratulations: “All of this year’s finalists and award winners can be very proud of their achievements and I congratulate them all on their hard work and dedication. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to upskill or reskill and enhance your career prospects. They also provide employers with the pipeline of talented people they need to grow their business and be competitive.”   

Andrew Smyth, who worked in different roles and had originally studied computing, says he has now found his niche:  

“I haven’t looked back.  I fell in love with the work, the work environment and I have really enjoyed the learning experience I’ve had with SERC.     

“Earning whilst you learn through an apprenticeship is very helpful.   Coming to college has been great.   Everyone has been very helpful with giving career advice.   The machine shop is good - it has been great being in there and having all the software and applications at hand to progress all that you are learning and to support what you are doing at work.” 

You can find out more about training and apprenticeship options through SERC here.