Lauren Crozier from Omagh is following her passion for Engineering and ‘Earning while she Learns’ at South West College (SWC), Omagh. Lauren is studying the Ulster University Foundation Degree in Engineering with Specialism in Mechatronics, part-time. This allows her to work full-time as a Higher Level Apprentice (HLA) at Scotts Bakery, Fivemiletown, ensuring that she can gain her bachelor’s degree without accumulating any tuition fee debt along the way.
Before commencing her studies at SWC, Lauren attended Drumragh Integrated College, Omagh. She was awarded the prestigious ‘Arkwright Engineering Scholarship’, which is presented to high calibre students to help them pursue an Engineering career via either University or a HLA.
Unlike University courses, HLA’s are accredited work-based programmes ranging from Level 4 to Level 7. They combine invaluable classroom learning with practical workplace training to prepare students for highly skilled jobs. HLA’s provide the ideal employment pathway option and are available within SWC across various sectors including Engineering, Business, Accounting and Computing.
High achiever, Lauren said: “I chose South West College to further my education as it provides me with the opportunity to gain hands-on industry training while also achieving a recognised Higher qualification through Ulster University.”
Lauren quickly settled into College life. She said: “The SWC tutors have a wealth of industry knowledge and are always willing to answer questions and offer guidance. Class sizes are smaller, allowing for more interaction with your tutors. This continued even with changing lockdown regulations, because SWC were well prepared for the possibility of moving to online learning. When the time came, this readiness made my transition from the classroom environment to online learning smooth and stress-free.”
Scott’s Bakery Engineering Manager, Calvin Chambers said, “Despite these strange times, our business has remained busy over recent months, and through taking all necessary precautions we’ve been able to ensure business progression. We plan to increase our Engineering resource during 2021 to enable and support continued business growth, and in doing so, we understand the value and support that South West College and their high-quality apprentices can provide.”
“Collaboration between colleges, students, local industry and employers is something that benefits all parties, and we look forward to working with South West College and their students for many years to come. I would recommend that any employers considering hiring an apprentice consider South West College.”
Lauren is grateful for how welcome Scotts Bakery have made her feel since the moment she joined. She said, “I knew it was an environment where I could thrive and develop new engineering skills. I have already gained many new and exciting experiences. I am enjoying being part of a friendly, hardworking team of people who are dedicated to innovative thinking in engineering technology, food production, packaging, and so much more.”
Lauren would recommend the Higher-Level Apprenticeship route through SWC to those deciding to pursue Higher Education. She said, “HLA’s afford you the opportunity to earn while you learn, while also reinforcing subject knowledge and technical skills for your degree. The added bonus is that this route doesn’t incur any university fees or student loans.”
Scott’s Bakery said, “We enjoy working with apprentices from the College, and by supplementing their theoretical knowledge gained at the college with practical engineering experience and training, along with a desire to succeed and build their skills, a successful engineering career can be achieved.”
Upon completion, Lauren hopes to progress onto the BEng (Hons) degree in Engineering top-up at South West College.
For further information and advice, please visit our Higher Education and Higher Level Apprenticeship virtual open days: 8-10 February, 5:30pm-6:30pm. Further Education and Apprenticeship events: 22-24 February, 5:30pm-6:30pm. To register for these virtual events please visit www.swc.ac.uk