PATRICK McGranaghan, from Strabane, has kick-started his career through the Going Places programme at South West College (SWC), which has given him the employability skills, confidence and qualifications to land his ‘dream job’, and also paved the way for future further education opportunities.
Patrick completed a university degree in Business Studies with Accounting at the University of Ulster, Magee, in June 2020.
However, having been diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age, Patrick faced personal barriers that limited his employment options.
The Going Places programme at SWC allowed Patrick to develop some of the skills he needed to gain employment.
Through the mentor-led programme, Patrick attained his driving license and enrolled on two courses; Level 1 Health and Social Care and Level 1 Employability.
Patrick said: “After completing my degree, this course was the perfect opportunity for me to obtain my driving license while expanding my skillset in the process.
"The employability course is the one I found especially beneficial.
"It allowed me to improve my interview skills, which helped me secure a part-time job while I was still on the course.”
He continued: “The classes, in general, were very informative. After each session, I felt that I had bettered myself somehow, and with group discussions, I feel like I was able to contribute and help others.
"The class was a very welcoming environment which made the course a lot more enjoyable to complete.
"The greatest benefit of studying with SWC is the array of opportunities it creates for you.
"By learning new skills, it helps you tick so many boxes that an employer is looking for in potential employees, making you a lot more desirable for many roles.”
Patrick is thankful for the opportunities the course has provided and would recommend the course to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to his.
He said: "Do not hesitate and just go for it. The programme funded my driving lessons which have been greatly beneficial as having access to a driving license makes it so much easier to find jobs.
"Whilst the course itself opens your eyes and can provide you with the clarity of what the correct career path may be for you.”
Near the end of the Going Places Programme, SWC staff supported Patrick with the next step in his journey by signposting him to the Future Leader Graduate Management Programme.
After receiving support with his application, Patrick successfully progressed on to the 12-week programme at SWC.
“Without the Going Places programme, I would never have found out about the graduate programme at SWC and would not be in the position that I am today which makes me very grateful for all those involved in the programme," he said.
"It’s a programme which ties in with my field of study from university and with the 12-week placement in a management role it is the chance for me to gain first-hand experience in a potential future role for me while allowing me to gain a new qualification at the same time.”
In the future, Patrick’s dream job is within a management role.
He added: “By completing the Future Leaders course it puts me on the first step of making this my career in the future.
"I now see myself obtaining this goal and showcasing the skills I have to offer as either a high-level manager of a company or an area manager with a retail firm.”
The Going Places programme is accessible to those aged 16-65 that are not in employment, training or education and who live within the Neighbourhood Renewal Areas in Strabane.
For those who are not eligible, SWC offers a range of social inclusion programmes designed to create progression pathways into further education and employment.
SWC Going Places lead mentor, Monica Langan said: “We know how challenging it can be for people out of work to get a job or get back into work or education, especially if they face personal barriers.
"The ‘Going places’ programme is an employability programme at SWC that plays a vital role in promoting social inclusion addressing any barriers to success within the education, training, work or employment continuum.
“It allows participants to gain a range of vocational qualifications including Level 1 Health and Social Care, Customer Service and Employability with a focus on building confidence and self-esteem.
"A dedicated mentor is available throughout the programme offering support for job search, CV building and interview techniques.
"In addition, participants have the opportunity to undertake a work placement and gain their driving licence as the course provides support with driving lessons, theory test and the practical test, all of which is fully funded.”
For further information and advice, visit SWC's Further Education and Apprenticeship virtual open days from February 22 to 24 from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
To register for the virtual events, visit www.swc.ac.uk