Matthew McMahon, from Roslea, Enniskillen, studies a Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) in Construction Engineering with Surveying at South West College (SWC) and is employed by Adman Civil Projects, Omagh, a combination which he believes is laying the perfect foundation for his future career.

Matthew explains that his time in school inspired him towards the construction industry, but that when it came to continuing his education he didn’t want to focus purely on academia. He says, “at school I always knew I wanted to get into construction, I just wasn’t sure what area in particular. I studied BTEC Construction and Technology and Design at A Level, then got offers from University, but I decided at that point that I wanted to get straight into the working world. Studying a HLA at SWC meant I could do that while still ultimately graduating with a degree, so it was perfect for me.”

As a HLA, Matthew was able to earn a good wage while furthering his career opportunities by gaining onsite experience and working with qualified professionals who were on hand to guide him through his training. Studying at SWC also brought benefits to his personal life, as he explains, “I enjoy being close to my family and playing sport locally. The HLA has allowed me to do both those things, which was important to me.”

As an apprentice I’ve seen a wide range of work onsite, every day is different. It feels like you’re building a really in depth understanding of things in a way that purely theoretical learning can’t provide.

A major benefit of apprenticeships is the collaboration of working onsite to gain real world experience, but also studying in the classroom to hone your understanding of the theory involved in your chosen industry. It’s this duality which Matthew says has benefited him the most and is why he’d recommend the HLA route to anyone considering it.

“Personally, I hope to continue as an HLA all the way to degree level and study a BSc (Hons) in Construction Engineering and Management at SWC, and from my experience so far I’d recommend a HLA to others. It’s a great way to fast track your career, because by the time you graduate with qualifications you already have years of experience to go with it. You’re not entering the industry for the first time, you’ve already been in it for a few years, building your career.”

To find out more about Higher Level apprenticeships at South West College visit: or contact

If you wish to study a construction related course please attend our open day in the Technology and Skills Centre on 3rd March 3.00 pm - 7.00pm or email for further information.

SWC Progression Route