For some youngsters, gaining hands-on experience through an apprenticeship role can often be more valuable than sitting in a lecture hall.
But 18-year-old Callum Turnbull, from Ellon, has the best of both worlds.
He is currently undertaking a Robert Gordon University (RGU) graduate apprenticeship while working at Engineering solutions business SengS.
Based at the Balmacassie Commercial Park in Ellon, SengS, which is part of integrated manufacturing specialist Pryme Group, provides engineering, testing, control and hydraulic systems and tooling to the oil and gas, aerospace and defence industries.
Since 2012, the company has delivered more than 600 projects across multiple disciplines for clients in the North Sea, Norway, Azerbaijan, the Middle East and West Africa.
Callum first arrived at SengS while still at school at Ellon Academy as part of a foundation apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering, organised by North East Scotland College (NESCol).
Two years later, he is now combining his role as an apprentice mechanical technician with a degree in Instrumentation, Measurement and Control Engineering at RGU.
As well as having hands-on involvement in major client projects, Callum regularly presents his university work to management and other colleagues at SengS, which has helped him develop his confidence and communication skills.
Now, he is encouraging other youngsters to follow in his footsteps towards a career in the energy industry.
“I’ve been fortunate to gain hands-on experience and an introduction to all aspects of the company, such as engineering and testing,” said Callum.
“The company has been really supportive in terms of giving me time and a quiet space to concentrate on my coursework and complete assignments.
“University definitely has its benefits; it allows you to meet more people from different backgrounds, who have different points of view.
“[But] my overall experience has been focused more on learning the practical side, which I feel has been more beneficial to me personally than if I were in a classroom all the time.
“I’m really grateful to the team here for their encouragement.”
David Benison, managing director at SengS, mentions that developing young talent through apprenticeship roles is a core part of the business.
He says: “As someone who started out in the industry on a similar path, I’m a huge believer in the value of companies developing their own talent.
“Callum’s experience has certainly shown the business benefits in bringing young people through and having people around you who understand the company’s ethos and values.
“He works hard, displays a positive attitude, and is always keen to listen to others.
“However, I’ve been most impressed with how he’s applied himself to the academic side of things.
“We are all determined to help him achieve his goal of becoming a graduate engineer here at SengS.”