Higher Level Apprentice Opens Career Route for Ben
0 min read
20 November 2023
A straightforward path to a career in IT didn’t quite meet expectations for Ben Harvey. A change of direction led to the Higher-Level Apprenticeship route and an eye-opener about what’s on offer through further education.
Ben, (29), from Newtownards, followed his GCSEs with A-Levels at Regent House and then went to Queen’s University Belfast to complete a BSc in Computer Science. Ben said, “I’d got halfway through my degree when I realised this is not what I expected or really wanted to do. At that stage it made more sense to complete the qualification rather than drop out.
He added, “Whilst at university, I was working in Game - the video game retailer - as part of the customer service team. I enjoyed the role and after I got my degree, I was able to secure a full-time post at Game and progressed to a management role. I spent four years in retail before a friend of mine mentioned he had completed a Leadership and Management course at SERC which he recommended. I enrolled on the course, and this helped me make a connection with EPOS NI, where I secured a post working in software. I was with the organisation for three years, but I was working behind a desk and wasn’t really enjoying the work."
Ben continued, “I called into SERC one day to speak to one of the careers team to find out what other courses I could do and to get some help with career direction. At that time, I thought an Apprenticeship was something someone did if they weren’t doing A levels, so I was enlightened to find out about the routes you could take with an Apprenticeship and to find out about Higher Level Apprenticeships (HLA). The more I heard about the HLA in Mechatronic Engineering, the more I knew it would be the perfect move for me. I enrolled on the course and spent a bit of time researching possible employers, but it was a link through the Apprenticeship team at SERC which led me to Camlin, where I secured the position of Apprentice Technician whilst I have been completing the HLA Mechatronic Engineering at SERC. I will complete the course in June 2024 and hope to stay on with Camlin when I complete.
In conclusion, Ben spoke about coming to SERC in comparison to university, he said, “I have really enjoyed the HLA. Coming back to learn at my age was a bit strange at the start but I have loved it. If I were to revisit my education again, I would go for an apprenticeship or straight to an HLA from A-Levels. I don’t regret going to university where I made great friends and had a really good experience, but the apprenticeship route has proved, for me, a much better way of learning. At university, you hardly get speaking to a lecturer, but at SERC, the lecturers are much more accessible and the combination of working and learning has been tremendous.”
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