Trade Route for Stephen

0 min read

08 February 2024

Stephen Smyth Level 2 Joinery Apprentice

A course in technology and design at school sparked interest for the apprenticeship route for Stephen Smyth.

Stephen, (17), from Newtownards said, “I like building things and doing things with my hands, so it seemed obvious that a trade would be the best route for me when I completed my GCSEs."

“I went along to an Open Evening at South Eastern Regional College (SERC) last March to find out about different apprenticeships and settled on joinery.   “Before I did my GCSEs, I telephoned Dougan Contracts Ltd. to find out if there were any opportunities.   I applied for an apprenticeship post and I was invited in for an interview and shown about the workshop by Ryan Dougan, one of the owners. I successfully secured a post as Apprentice Joiner at Dougan Contracts Ltd. and started in August 2023, and in September I started the study, as part of my apprenticeship at SERC.   I am in college one day a week and then am in work four days."

Speaking about his day-to-day role at Dougan Contacts Ltd., Stephen said, “At the minute I am helping fit out shops and helping make units in the workshop.  I have a mentor in work, Davy, who has vast experience and is great at teaching and passing on his skills.   In College every week, I am building on those skills, so you are learning all the time.”

Stephen added, “After my Level 2 I would like to progress onto the Level 3 Apprenticeship.  The plan is to build on my skills and experience and see where that takes me.”

When asked about the transition from school to the apprenticeship, Stephen said, “I am more practical, so the apprenticeship suits my style of learning, and I am enjoying the mix of work and college. There are a few familiar faces from school on my course at college, but I have also made some new friends.”

When asked about earning whilst he is learning, Stephen said, “I try to think that my priority is learning, and the money is secondary.   If I was doing a regular course, I would probably be working part-time in the evenings or at weekends, but with the apprenticeship the work and study is all combined, so I have some free time after work and college.”  

Stephen’s tutor Adrian Wilson said, “Stephen is a good worker and has shown a lot of interest in all practical aspects of the apprenticeship, so I am expecting him to do well as he progresses.”

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

Visit www.serc.ac.uk to unlock your future #BetterOffAtSERC.