Are you ready to take the next steps after receiving your results? Hear from our current student, Elisha McDermott, who made the decision to leave school at 16 and study Construction at the South West College (SWC) Enniskillen campus. This decision has proven instrumental in shaping her prosperous career in the Construction industry.
With a strong interest in Construction, Elisha joined SWC after her GCSEs at St Aidan’s High School and pursued the BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment. This course, equivalent to three A-levels has proved to be the perfect route and has allowed Elisha to progress on to a Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA). As a HLA, Elisha will be employed while also working towards an Ulster University Foundation Degree in Construction Engineering with Surveying.
Reflecting on her decision to forgo A-levels, Elisha explained, "I naturally gravitated towards more hands-on learning, and this course provided me with the perfect opportunity to focus on construction while still achieving the equivalent of three A-levels."
Elisha, who is not a fan of exams, found the course highly rewarding. She said, "The college environment is refreshingly different from school. Here, we are treated as adults, and the coursework-based approach, allowed me to explore all aspects of the industry first-hand. I gained hands-on experience using state-of-the-art software, visited building sites, and obtained valuable work experience."
Elisha's journey at SWC extended beyond the classroom. As part of the course, she had the amazing opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh and participate in the Penn State High-Performance Building Summer programme. There, she learned best practices in energy-efficient design.
She explained, "Studying this course has provided me with incredible opportunities that will undoubtedly shape my future career. Engaging discussions, visits to local sites, and interactions with industry professionals expanded my horizons and allowed me to see the real-world applications of what we learned in the classroom."
Now ready to move into Higher Education as a HLA, Elisha believes the transition should be seamless. She highlights the numerous advantages of this route and adds, "I completed the course in May, and now I am smoothly entering higher education as a higher-level apprentice. I can stay at home, gain experience via employment, earn a wage, all while achieving my Foundation Degree. In comparison, my friends, have to deal with the hassle of moving, searching for accommodation, and incurring additional expenses."
For those considering a career in construction, Elisha encourages learners to explore their options. She emphasized, "A-levels may not be the best fit for everyone. This course emphasizes coursework over exams and offers not only a wide range of employment opportunities but also opens doors for further education and development, as well as a direct route into a Higher Level Apprenticeship."
If you are uncertain about your next steps after GCSE results, SWC provides a supportive and enriching environment. They offer a wide range of courses from Level 2 to 6 that can lead to a successful career in construction and much more. Explore the possibilities and discover the advantages of the courses on offer at SWC.