When Larne apprentice, Courtney Bird finished her GCSEs, she wasn’t quite sure what to do next.
Courtney said: “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do and I did apply for a few different things including a beauty course but I just knew it wasn’t for me.”
Instead Courtney applied to Larne Skills Development (LSD) and began a City & Guilds in Engineering.
She said: “Larne Skills Development placed me in Larne Port as a trainee for three days a week and after just six months and a lot of support and encouragement from them they offered me a three year apprenticeship as a Fitter and Mechanical Engineer at the Port of Larne. I have now completed Levels One and Two in my City & Guilds in Engineering and I am working towards Level Three with just one further year of training to complete. Having been here for just over a year I am very happy and want to continue my career in engineering.”
Since embarking on her apprenticeship, Courtney has not looked back. She said: “I love what I do. I work across a variety of projects around the port including the weighbridge and general maintenance and while some jobs are repetitive I am never doing the same thing day after day. I work in a tight knit team of 12 that include electricians and carpenters so being a team player is really important. I am also developing great welding skills and loving that too. Health and safety in and around Larne Port is paramount so we have to have a sound working knowledge of that too.
And the best thing about Courtney’s job? “I love the fact that I am doing something different every day and I am outside a lot which is great, especially on a summer’s day when the Port is looking beautiful but it’s not so great when the cold winter weather comes!
“An apprenticeship has definitely been the right route for me and I would highly recommend it. I have also been so lucky to have found a very supportive team here at Larne Port – they even built loos especially for me as I am the only woman on the team.”
One of Courtney’s and her teams’ priorities is working to ensure the Port’s busiest ramp, which is used by P&O Ferries, is kept in excellent working order so that all traffic can get on and off the ferry safely and efficiently. With up to seven sailings per day between Larne and Cairnryan and more than 200,000 lorries and trailers carried in the last year and 400,000 tourists and families travelling on the route, there’s a great deal of pressure to ensure they keep things working smoothly. Courtney said: “We’re proud of the fact that 95% of sailings depart on time and we work to keep it that way.”