After completing his GCSEs, Micheál MacSalaigh, from Omagh, chose to pursue a BTEC National Extended Diploma in Construction at the South West College Omagh campus. This qualification, equivalent to 3 A-levels, provided him with invaluable experiences and opportunities in the industry, leading him to further studies.

Micheál progressed to the Ulster University Foundation Degree in Civil Engineering – Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) at the College alongside employment at Fox Contracts. Micheál's impressive achievements include being awarded the prestigious Institution of Civil Engineers ICE Quest scholarship for his outstanding performance.

Reflecting on his journey, Micheál shared,

I attended the Christian Brothers School up to GCSE level, before leaving at 16 to complete a BTEC National Extended Diploma in Construction at SWC.

"Whilst I had the offer and opportunity to go to university, I opted for the “earn and learn” route as a Higher Level Apprentice with the support of my employer.

This pathway has provided him with incredible opportunities that Michael says just wouldn’t have happened if he had stayed on at school.

"Last Summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Pennsylvania, USA, to study High-Performance Building Design at Penn State University. The trip was fully funded and an incredible learning experience.

Michael was also awarded the prestigious Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Quest Technician Scholarship and was awarded a Scholarship of £1,000, in recognition of his outstanding achievements.

"Being awarded the ICE Quest scholarship has been a major boost to my self-confidence and further convinced me that I have made the right career choice to pursue an apprenticeship with Fox Contracts and SWC. I intend to complete an Honours Top-Up Degree in Civil Engineering on my pathway to becoming a Chartered Civil Engineer.”

Michael has found the course has suited his learning style, with an emphasize on coursework over exams and it 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.

Michael is grateful for the support of his employer and the opportunities that have come his way through pursuing this route and encourages others to consider this pathway and says the advantages of employment alongside studying is immense.

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 by visiting and search ‘construction.’

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