SERC Puts Stephen on Track for his Chosen Career


Applications are open for full-time courses at South Eastern Regional College (SERC) – Northern Ireland’s top-performing college – and one young Newtownards man says applying to SERC last year was the way to help unlock his future career.

Stephen Smyth (17) enjoyed technology and design at school, and he says a trade apprenticeship seemed the obvious route after his GCSEs. He explains:

“I went along to an open evening at South Eastern Regional College (SERC) last year to find out about different apprenticeships and settled on joinery. I secured a post as an apprentice joiner at Dougan Contracts Ltd. and started in August 2023, and in September I started the study, as part of my apprenticeship at SERC Newtownards Campus. I am in college one day a week and I’m in work four days.

Stephen says the mixture of workplace and college learning suits him: “At the minute I am helping fit out shops and helping make units in the workshop. I have a mentor in work, Davy, who has vast experience and is great at teaching and passing on his skills. In College every week, I am building on those skills, so you are learning all the time, and I am enjoying the mix of work and college. There are a few familiar faces from school on my course at SERC, but I have also made some new friends.”

SERC delivers a broad range of full-time courses,a broad range of full-time courses, including apprenticeships and traineeships, for anyone from post-GCSE right up to degree level. Students learn from qualified, industry-experienced tutors in state-of-the-art facilities, including salons, studios, training kitchens and computer suites. Most courses include work placements, and in many cases, there is the opportunity to travel abroad for work experience and study.

Applications for full-time courses starting in September are open now and potential students can apply directly through the college website: