Harry Durant

Harry Durant joined South Devon UTC in 2017, leaving in 2019 with outstanding grades in BTEC Level 3 in Engineering. He had been inspired to work in the field of engineering from a young age, and his dream is becoming a reality after successful appointment on a degree level apprenticeship with Cyclerval UK, part of Groupe TIRU.

“When I was deciding on my sixth form college I looked at the other engineering colleges. But when I visited the UTC I was shown around by the headteacher – he was very inspirational and asked me to consider studying all areas of engineering and not to specialise yet, he wanted me to have a broad knowledge of all engineering specialisms. I was also very impressed by the facilities at
the UTC,” he says.

“Now I work as an apprentice electrical engineer for Cyclerval UK – it’s part of Groupe TIRU, a French company that is a subsidiary of EDF. We’re a power plant where we produce energy from waste. I’m studying electrical engineering – my employer is sponsoring me to complete my studies and I work four days a week and study one day a week,” he adds.

This is the first degree-level apprenticeship programme offered by Cyclerval – Harry’s preparation for interview, along with his extensive portfolio of skills and work-related experiences, ensured that he was the successful candidate.

“The UTC was the stepping stone that put me ahead of the other applicants because of what I’d studied and they had not,” says Harry. “It also gave me the study skills and practical skills that I need now. At the UTC I was studying the extended diploma in engineering which often required juggling/prioritising many assignments at once. This is still needed now, as I work four days a
week and study one day a week and therefore continue to have to juggle working and studying.”

Harry is severely dyslexic and has received specialist support and encouragement from the UTC during his time there. His mother, Liz Durant, works at the college as the Assistant SENDCo, and specialises in dyslexia.

“Harry has never given up on himself. He has accepted the support and the encouragement of him to pursue the activities that he was good at, such as becoming a sailing instructor, which has then given him the interpersonal skills to communicate, which is a strength,” she says. “Although he has had support, he had to do what he needed to do to secure the job. Along the way, he had many knock-backs and moments of self-doubt, particularly with positions that required written tests in the interview process. It was his resilience that helped him to pick himself back up and not give up.”

Harry has found the solution to his literacy challenges through the use of technology. Adaptive and accessibility features of his laptop enable him to comfortably complete report writing and assignments in the study element of the apprenticeship.