The more I can learn, the greater the opportunities are for the future, particularly in electric vehiclesNiamh WatsonNWRC Apprentice Mechanic
A Trainee Mechanical Technician at Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Vehicle Depot in Skeoge has encouraged school leavers and young people looking for their next career move to consider the apprenticeship route as a pathway to full time employment.
Niamh Watson, an 18-year-old former Oakgrove Integrated College student, is studying for her Level Three Apprentice Mechanic qualification at the North West Regional College and is currently on placement servicing and repairing Council’s extensive fleet of vehicles.
Apprenticeships offer candidates an alternative to the straight educational route, offering paid employment that allows participants to earn while they learn, while working alongside experienced staff and gaining both training and qualifications specific to their chosen industry.
“I love it here, I learn something every day and the variety is brilliant,” she says. “It’s a huge fleet so I’m getting exposure to a great range of sizes and types of vehicles, there are a lot of hybrid and electrical vehicles which its great to get hands on experience of working with as they are the future.
“Every day is different, you could be repairing brushes on the street cleansing vehicles one minute and then changing bulbs on a refuse collection vehicle the next.”
While skilled manual jobs are traditionally male dominated, Niamh has experienced no issues settling in and feeling accepted at her new workplace.
“I think some garages maybe weren’t keen on taking on a girl, but I didn’t take that personally, it’s just an old-fashioned way of thinking,” she continued.
“The team at Skeoge have all welcomed me, I don’t expect any special treatment, everyone is equal here and that’s the way it should be.
“It was a bit intimidating to begin with, it’s a big organisation and I was used to working in a small garage, so to come into a huge forecourt like Skeoge took some getting used to.”
Niamh arrived at Council with years of hands-on experience under her belt from working in her father and grandfather and she believes the experience she has gained on her placement, coupled with an industry qualification, will put her in a strong position to achieve full time employment when the apprenticeship ends.
“I always wanted to work at something hands on,” she continued. “My Daddy and my granda were both mechanics so I was brought up in that environment and I was able to see first hand what it is about and I liked the idea of problem solving.
“It’s a great team to be part of it here and there are some hugely experienced mechanics with decades of experience who are only too willing to pass on their tips and tricks.
“The more I can learn, the greater the opportunities are for the future, particularly in electric vehicles.
“The experience I get relates directly to my studies and when my apprenticeship is finished I want to do my Master Mechanic qualification which is internationally recognised and could allow me to travel the world in the future.
“I’d like to take this chance to thank everyone at Skeoge and I would 100% recommend this route to anyone who wants to learn a trade and prepare themselves to be able to apply for permanent roles.
“You’re not stuck in a class room and at the end of it you are in a stronger position than other candidates who may not have the experience.”
School leavers and people at a career crossroads will have the opportunity to learn more about the apprentice opportunities that exist in the Council area at a special event at the Guildhall next month.
The Apprenticeship Fair on Thursday February 8th from 1pm - 4pm is being hosted by the Derry Strabane Labour Market Partnership and will feature representatives from local training providers who are offering a wide range of opportunities across a variety of sectors.
The Apprenticeship Programme is open to all employers large or small, if you need an extra pair of hands or want to expand your business you can talk to Council today.
If you are interested in becoming or hiring an apprentice visit https://getapprenticeships.me/ now for more information.
Trainee Mechanical Technician at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Niamh Watson, at work at Council’s Fleet Depot at Skeoge Industrial Estate