Father of four Francis Mc Kenna from Derrygonnelly progressed within his career to Site Supervisor but required a formal qualification to match his competence. So, he returned to education through an Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) via the South West College (SWC) to achieve a Foundation Degree in Construction Engineering and Management.
Francis achieved seven GCSE’s at St Mary’s High School Belleek and proceeded to complete his A levels at St Michael's, but after one year, he decided to transition into a more vocational route. He said: ‘In Sept 1995, I enrolled on the NVQ Level 2 Electrical Installation Engineering, advancing on to the Level 3 qualification. Upon completing my Level 3 qualification in Electrical Installation Engineering, I commenced employment as an Electrician where I gained a vast range of experience in domestic, commercial, heavy industrial electrical systems and high voltage Sub-Stations.’
Francis continued to work and gained extensive industry experience over several years, eventually progressing into construction site management. However, he aspired to achieve an academic qualification that would match his expertise and allow career progression without travelling to Belfast or further afield. He said: ‘I decided to enrol on The Open University BSc (Hons) Construction Engineering and Management at South West College. As the course complemented my role as a Site Supervisor where I managed the day-to-day operational running of Wind Farms which included site civil works and upgrades.’
Francis gained entry onto the Foundation Degree at the SWC using APEL, which is a process that acknowledges unaccredited learning experiences aiming to help people like Francis advance into Higher Education. He said: ‘APEL was a simple process where I had to fill in some forms and send through my qualifications and experience to date alongside a face-to-face interview with the course Tutor.’
Francis was thankful for the opportunity APEL presented as he didn’t have the standard entry qualifications but was able to demonstrate his competence within the industry. He said: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the Foundation Degree and gained a wealth of knowledge from it; I would highly recommend it to anyone in a similar situation.’
Francis now hopes to continue his studies and attain his Top Up Degree at SWC whilst continuing in full-time employment. He said: ‘I enjoy the flexibility of my current role and have the perfect balance between site and office work. The position is varied, and no two days are the same as I get to meet different contractors and visit various sites each week. The role is perfect as I am home every night, and this helps with work-life balance, which is extremely important to me as I am a Father of four children.
For further information and to apply visit: www.swc.ac.uk