College aerospace course brings exciting job opportunity for student

College aerospace course brings exciting job opportunity for student

A new aerospace course co-delivered by Ayrshire College this summer in partnership with Skypath and funded by National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) has given one student hope of a brighter future. 

This course was developed by funding provided to NMIS from the National Transitional Training Fund (NTTF), for students who had recently been made redundant or who were under the threat of redundancy.

Darron Smith, 35, had been working as a seasonal gardener with South Ayrshire Council for close to seven years when he found out he wasn’t required to return to work back in March 2021.

With a young family to provide for, and unsure what to do next, Darron found out about the Aircraft Decommissioning Pathway course and wondered if it was the right opportunity for him. The full-time course was being offered free of charge to people over 25 to meet the growing industry demand for people with skills in the fast-growing area of decommissioning – the process of disassembling and dismantling an ageing aircraft which has been withdrawn from operational service.

Darron had no experience of the aerospace industry, although his father-in-law had worked as an aeronautical engineer. When he read that experience wasn’t necessary, only enthusiasm – which he had in abundance – he decided to go for it.

Now after successfully completing the Aircraft Decommissioning Pathway course, Darron has started work as a PACE Mechanic with Prestwick Aircraft Maintenance Limited (PAML).

Darron said: “This is a new direction for me, it’s given me a new lease of life. I was disappointed not to get the call back in March, which I put down to Covid. It’s just one of those things.

“When I first read about this course, I’ll openly admit I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it. But I wanted the opportunity. I think they saw my enthusiasm and my energy, and I’m delighted they did. I loved the training.

“I was in a group of eight people on the course, and they all had backgrounds in oil and gas, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering. I thought “I’m just a gardener here”. I thought I was up against it so needed to be switched on. But it was a great taster, a lot to learn in six weeks, and it quickly began to sink in.”

Darron’s next move was to apply for the Performing Engineering Operations – Aeronautical course at Ayrshire College, to continue to improve his hand skills. However, during the last week of the course, the students were encouraged to write new CVs tailored to the aerospace industry. This quickly led to an interview with PAML for a Night Shift Cabin Mechanic.

Darron said: “I told them I was willing to start at the bottom and work my way up. To me, it seems like they invest in the individual rather than solely looking at qualifications.

“It’s a little daunting because I don’t have experience in the field, but I’m there to learn. This feels like a fresh start. I feel like I’ve got another 35 years of work ahead of me. I’ve got a young family, three boys under 5, and so I’m trying to do this for them.”

Alistair Aird, Curriculum Manager for Aeronautical Engineering at Ayrshire College, said: "I noticed Darron’s enthusiasm on day one when I carried out the course introduction. You could sense he was looking to use the course as a platform to get into the industry. The feedback from the instructors delivering the course was excellent, and that was also the case in the classes he attended at the college for the PEO. I’m sure he would have excelled over the year and obtained the Group Award, but at the same time, I can understand him taking up the opportunity that was afforded to him by PAML. I wish Darron all the very best in the future."

13 October 2021

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