Twenty year-old, Mechanical Engineer Apprentice, Arin Connolly, tells us how completing the ‘Skills for Work National 5’course helped him realise his potential, and gave him the confidence to pursue a professional career in a highly regarded and sought after industry.

“I always knew I wanted to do something practical, something of a trade discipline. The ‘Skills for Work National 5’ programme was a great introductory course; spread over 19 weeks it acted as a taster platform to elements including: welding, fabrication, plumbing, electrical and mechanical engineering and maintenance and construction.

‘Prior to the course I thought I would go down the plumbing and construction route but the course turned my thoughts to engineering which was more methodical and challenging for me - it exceeded my expectations and helped me determine exactly what career path I wanted to take.”

As a result of successfully completing the course, Arin embarked on the full-time Pre-Apprentice Mechanical Engineering course. Going from strength to strength Arin excelled in all aspects, building positive working relationships with both his peers and lecturers along the way, securing himself a Mechanical Engineer Apprenticeship with the Scottish Leather Group.

“The lecturers have a great network of key industry contacts which they put me and the other guys in my class in touch with. They helped setup interviews with potential employers and it was from there that I was successful in securing an apprenticeship with the Scottish Leather Group.

‘I’m now in my 3rd year of my apprenticeship which I love. I do 4 days in the factory maintaining machinery and services and 1 day of day release at College. It’s a great combination of on-the-job training and theory based learning. Where I am I'm not thought of as just an apprentice, I'm a valued member of the team with a lot responsibility, which I thrive on.

‘The Skills for Work course definitely helped set me up for where I am now. It enabled me to realise my potential – I had never thought of becoming an engineer and was always quite daunted by the thought of it, as it’s a highly regarded, sought after job.

‘My advice for anyone thinking about going to college and going down the apprenticeship route is to go for it. It might not have the big label of a university degree but you get the practical skills, the on-the-job training and the qualifications at the end of it, which is ultimately what employers are looking for.

It’s certainly been the best decision I’ve made and I’m now well on my way to successful career in engineering.

If you’re inspired by Arin’s story and want to find out more about the courses available visit www.westcollegescotland.