Luke Marks hails from Moneymore and he studies the Level 3 Engineering GOLD programme at South West College’s Dungannon campus as an apprenticeship. Luke’s diligence and determination has seen him thrive as an apprentice and he has recently made the cut as a finalist for the Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards 2023.

The awards recognise apprentices who are making a significant contribution in their workplace and have shown a dedication to excel in their professional development and learning. The awards ceremony will take place on 29th March 2023 and Luke is delighted to have made it through to the final stage:

Whenever I seen that I was put forward for this, I was very happy. Tobermore and SWC recognise that I’m willing to work and get really involved in the job. It was really helpful to have that support in work and from the college.

This week marks Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week 2023. Running from the 6th to the 10th February, this week-long celebration builds on the momentum of increasing apprenticeship numbers since the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a series of in-person and virtual events taking place, the week will showcase the power of an apprenticeship in transforming the futures of both businesses and students alike.

There are all sorts of opportunities across various industries that budding apprentices can find out about during the week and get involved in. Apprenticeships apply the same work as a real full time job, earn a salary and gain qualifications. From accountancy to plumbing, there truly is something for everyone.

Luke splits his study time between classes in Dungannon and his work placement as an apprentice fitter at Tobermore. They manufacture and produce world class paving and walling materials. They manufacture and supply these products to cater for both the domestic and commercial markets throughout the UK and Ireland.

Luke spoke on what inspired his choice to study an apprenticeship:

I always wanted to do hands-on work and go down a mechanical route from a young age. An apprenticeship was an obvious choice, earning while you learn.

There have been three large scale developments in Tobermore in Luke’s time as an apprentice there, including a new state-of-the-art £8.6 million production facility at their site. This brings the total number of factories based at their manufacturing headquarters to 10 in total and spread over an impressive 64 acres of land. Tobermore of one of the largest manufacturing employers in Northern Ireland with over 460 staff.

Luke is an advocate for anyone who is wondering about going down the apprenticeship route to progress in their career:

“If you’re going in straight away to an apprenticeship, you’re getting the work experience and the qualification as you move through each week, compared to just studying at university. You might come out with a good qualification there but up against an apprentice who has been in the work environment; has the know-how, understanding of equipment, processes and the way a business works, you’re in a better position as an apprentice to step into a job once you’re qualified.”

Christopher Devlin, Engineering lecturer at South West College said:

“Luke is an excellent student and a good example of what can be achieved with an apprenticeship at South West College. His hard work and determination are clear for all to see and it's really paying off for him. The close relationship we enjoy with a reputable employer like Tobermore can only benefit the industry as a whole and ensure the skills required are there for engineering in the locality continues to thrive.”

If you’re interested in following in Luke’s footsteps – you can book yourself a spot on our online event ‘All About Apprenticeships’ on 9th
February. Get a 15 minute consultation with a member of the SWC apprenticeship team for some expert advice and friendly guidance for anyone wanting to embark on an apprenticeship as their career path.

Are you All About Apprenticeships?