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Scott Sharkey – CAFRE Alumni

Scott Sharkey, from Ballygawley, Dungannon completed the Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Land-based Engineering at CAFRE, Greenmount Campus in June 2020.

What course did you study at CAFRE and how has it influenced your career?

While studying my GCSE’s at The Royal School, Dungannon I felt that A-levels would not be the route to follow. Through my secondary school years I always had an interest in agricultural machinery and I applied for the Level 3 course in Land-based Engineering at CAFRE. The course gave me a really good foundation and understanding of the industry which I now work in.  

Why did you decide to study at CAFRE?

I heard about CAFRE and the courses offered when at school and knew of people who had completed courses, and in particular those at Greenmount. Having no farm at home and given that my interest lay more with farm machinery it was an easy choice to undertake the Land-based Engineering course.  

What is your current job and responsibilities?

Currently I am employed by ADW Agricultural Services & Repairs, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone as a mechanic, working on various land-based machinery. Having now completed a full year of experience, my responsibilities are now more varied and challenging. I follow jobs from beginning to end, including breakdowns or machinery servicing, identifying problems, ordering parts, changing and fitting parts and complete all relevant paperwork to go along with the jobs. 

Do you have a typical working day?

No day or week is ever the same, given the nature of the role. Some jobs can last hours, days or weeks. Working for a business that also offers a breakdown service ensures that I have to think and act fast to ensure the customer has their machine back up and running in minimal time.

What was your first job?

Before I enrolled on the Level 3 Land-based Engineering course, I completed work experience with ADW Agricultural Services and it’s great to be back there now in full-time employment.

What is the best thing about your job?

Given the nature of the work, I get to meet a lot of new people. I also get the independence of fault finding and fixing equipment on my own. Fixing or repairing machinery not only brings a sense of achievement but personal satisfaction, solving a problem and getting the machine up and running.

What is the greatest challenge of your job?

Some days bring more challenges than others in the world of a mechanic. For me, trying to get to the bottom of a fault or, thinking why is a machine doing that, brings a sense of satisfaction. I also enjoy being able to troubleshoot and rectify faults that I have never come across before.   

What is your fondest memory of your time at CAFRE?

I enjoyed the entire course and the way it was split 50/50 practical and theory. This meant that we had real scenarios to deal with which helped us learn. A highlight of the course for me was the 2020 Study Tour which took place a few months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This  was an action packed week of activities including visits to the LAMMA Show, JCB Factory, Kuhn UK distribution hub, New Holland Factory, Caterpillar Factory, along with a number of large machinery dealership visits.

During my time at Greenmount, I lived on campus accommodation and in the evenings I was involved in both the motor club and engineering club where I got to design and build items, which also helped to improve my practical skills. Both clubs were supervised by instructing and lecturing staff. There were many other clubs and activities held in the evening for the students.

Have you undertaken further training since leaving CAFRE?

Since leaving CAFRE, I have been working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and haven’t yet had the opportunity to undertake more formal training. Where I am working is a small close knit team and they are willing to transfer their knowledge to me which has been beneficial.

Do you keep in touch with fellow students who were in your class?

Whilst studying Land-based Engineering, I had the opportunity to meet new people all with similar interests. From March 2020 to date, we have not had the chance to meet up as a large group face-to-face, but hopefully in the near future we will. Many of us still keep regular contact with one another on an individual basis.   

How do you like to relax outside work?

Depending on the time of year I am often working up to six days a week, so when I get a bit of downtime and time off, I like to socialise with my friends.  

What advice would you give a new graduate?

If you have graduated but are considering continuing your education, my view is that this is the time to continue. After a year out of full-time education I would find it hard to go back into a formal educational course. If you are going into employment then embrace it, don’t be afraid. You will learn something new every day.

What advice would you give a school leaver considering study at CAFRE?

If you’re willing to work hard, gain a valuable qualification and also gain experience of living away from home, CAFRE is a great place to learn, study and to meet new people.