Apprenticeship Degrees blogGA Rising Star: A year on

Just over a year on from being crowned GA Rising Star at the last Scottish Apprenticeship Awards in 2019, David William MacKenzie updated us on his life as a busy Graduate Apprentice in what has been the strangest of times.

At the last SDS Scottish Apprenticeship Awards ceremony held in Caird Hall, Dundee in November of 2019, it’s safe to say that I was shocked to win the GA Rising Star Award. At the time, I was working as a Team Manager with GSK in Montrose and juggling the second year of my degree. Now, over a year on, I have been seconded into a promoted post of Lead Planner and I am really enjoying the third year of my Engineering: Design & Manufacture Graduate Apprenticeship at Strathclyde.

I was always open that studying for the degree was real personal ambition as I wasn't ready for further education as soon as I left school. It continues to be my own personal drive and determination that carries me through my studies whilst I also reap the benefits professionally. 

Third year is proving to be enjoyable as I am actively applying the skills, information and knowledge gained across the first two years of the degree programme to a live work based project. I can see the influence of what I have learned in my first two years of study and that is definitely reflected in the quality of my work. 

Working on a large 60-credit project, it feels that I am reporting what I do in my job for the work based assessments elements, which is a good thing. It was always the aim for Strathclyde when these work based degrees were developed, that vital work based elements were integrated into the programmes so that the practical application back into the 'day job' did not require additional activities to be sought out.

I have has also gone on to select my Year 3 electives which has given me the opportunity to select classes that fit with my current role, support my professional progression and to choose some which I have a personal interest in as well. The GA has certainly sparked an interest in me in to seek out more information, I enjoy reading and learning more about specific topics and subjects – something I hope that continues when my studies are complete.

Juggling work, study and home life has always been a challenge and this year in particular has not made that any easier. Classed as a key worker, I have been working 12-hour shifts and with everyone at home including my young children, it's been difficult to stick to the study pattern that has seen me through my first two years of university. I've also missed the on campus sessions at Strathclyde which, for me, makes the study aspect of my degree seem more real. I miss that interaction in person with the lecturers and my peers and look forward to when that resumes. For now, I am continuing to successfully balance work, study and life despite the uncertain times.

Now at the mid-way point of my third year, I can't believe how quickly the time is passing by. At times it feels like you are just living for the next deadline, be that at work or university, but to see the impact that my studies are having in my job is so encouraging. The hard work is paying off.

Find out more about David's GA journey in his Case Study.

Skills Development Scotland logo