When I finished I was able to choose to continue with another course, so I decided on the City and Guilds Certificate in Heavy Vehicle Maintenance, which was full-time for a year.
Then I saw an advert for a Modern Apprenticeship with GIST Ltd at its heavy vehicle workshop in Cumbernauld. GIST is a huge freight transport and distribution company which supplies lorries for some of the biggest names in the retail and catering industries.
I sent in my CV, did the interviews and got offered the job – so I came off the full-time City and Guild course and started at the beginning again, doing the same qualification. Only this time I’m studying on a part-time basis as a Modern Apprentice and getting paid to do it.
I learn the theory at block release courses every seven weeks, which last around a week. When I’m back at work, I work beside a trained mechanic who shows me how something’s done and then lets me do it – it’s a good way to learn.
The College Assessor also visits me every eight to 12 weeks to see how I’m progressing and that I’m doing the kind of work that meets the course requirements.
I like the mixture of ways to learn. Going to college is good because it’s a change from being in the workshop. But it’s good to get hands-on experience instead of just sitting in a classroom.
There’s a lot of things to know about. I’ve been looking at chassis systems, steering, suspension and braking – also at lubrication and cooling systems and I’ll be studying electricals at some point, too.
The lecturers at New College Lanarkshire are good – they’ve got experience in the industry and it’s not like being at school. It’s quite a relaxed atmosphere.
It’ll take me three-and-a-half years to complete my apprenticeship and become a fully qualified heavy vehicle automotive engineer. That doesn’t worry me – it’d take the same time to do it on a full-time course. GIST Ltd is also working on putting me through the training for the HGV Class 2 Licence, which will be really good.
I’m happy with being a Modern Apprentice. I’m being trained for a job in an industry which should offer a secure future – and I wouldn’t have been able to get my own car if I was still at college full-time!