A return to your studies after years away from the classroom can seem pretty daunting. But find the courage to face your fears, and as former Redcar and Cleveland College student Alex Risbrough will tell you, the results can be well worth it.
With the support of his employer, he chose to study a HNC in Mechanical Engineering at the college and it delivered far more than just the qualification.
Now encouraging more employers to explore the benefits of upskilling their staff, the college’s higher education team has announced plans for an online Educating Engineers: Employer Question and Answer event in May.
Of making a return to the classroom, Alex said: “It gave me the confidence I needed to progress at work and it gave me the knowledge to feel more confident in making decisions.”
A plant maintenance technician at AV Dawson, this renewed and revived confidence in his abilities saw Alex quickly progress to a team leader’s role.
With promotion, a graduation and becoming a first time dad, all in the last year, it’s fair to say life has been pretty hectic for the 30-year-old from Guisborough.
While he admits at school he was “never fussed” about education, as an adult learner he enjoyed the challenges that studying higher education brought with it. Plus, he added, the benefit of working in the field that you are studying means that everything quickly starts to make sense on a daily basis.
“It was quite hard at first but you have to commit yourself,” he said. “It was daunting going back into the classroom, but once you get into the routine it is fine. Once I had sat the first exam, I realised I can do this. I have also built friendships along the way.”
Having joined the forces at 19 and training and working as an engineer in the Navy for five years, Alex’s route into higher education, like so many others, hasn’t been a traditional one.
But eventually starting work at AV Dawson and encouraged to further develop his skills, Alex can now see a future career path that has the potential to see him rise through the ranks; and part of an organisation where professional development is the culture, there’s little to hold him back.
Head of Engineering at AV Dawson, Mark Wells, said: “As an employer we are proud of what Alex has achieved. We have been able to see his confidence and knowledge grow.”
A former Redcar and Cleveland College HNC Mechanical Engineering graduate himself, Mark said he knows the value of higher education and the benefits it can bring both to the workplace and for personal growth.
He said: “As a family run business we believe in developing our staff, raising aspirations and offering them the opportunity to progress, if that is what they want. As a business we want the right people with the right skills to help push forward, so giving our employees that chance makes sense.”
Now looking forward to seeing what the future holds, Alex said: “It’s great to be given that opportunity and to feel valued as an employee. After two years working as a technician, I felt ready to build my knowledge and I have always said yes to any opportunities that are given.”
As for sharing any words of wisdom, Alex said: “I would always recommend it to others, studying my HNC has given me more knowledge to apply to the job I’m doing and it has built my confidence to make much better decisions.”
To find out more about the higher education engineering courses available at Redcar and Cleveland College visit: www.cleveland.ac.uk/adultcourses/highereducation/
Confirm your attendance to the college’s free online Educating Engineers: Employer Q&A event on Tuesday May 12, from 2pm to 2.30pm.
A guest panel will be answering industry questions and discussing topics including: Engineering in the Tees Valley, skills shortage and employability, why upskill your workforce? and investments in the college’s educational facilities and equipment
To register visit: www.rcc-educating-engineers.eventbrite.co.uk