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As part of a compelling look into our Apprentice Programme, we have had the opportunity to engage with some of our outstanding apprentices, one of whom is Craig Smith, a Level 2 Rail Engineering Operative based in Birmingham.
In this interview, we delve into why Craig joined our programme and take a look into his life as an apprentice in the rail engineering industry.
I had a troubled past and grew up in care from the age of five.
This gave me an opportunity to escape from the trauma I was experiencing at the time and is where I found my interest in steam engines and the railway.
When I was 12 years old, I became a volunteer supporting the trains and tracks and enjoyed every minute of it.
I also love horses and for the last four years have been competing in Horseball tournaments. My other hobbies include looking after tropical fish, watching football and gaming.
I have ADHD. I feel I am a good example of how someone that is on the neuro-diverse spectrum can fail at school but go on to achieve success in life.
I always dreamed of a career in the infrastructure industry, and I am now living this dream on a Railway apprenticeship with McGinley.
I hated it, I couldn’t sit in a classroom for more than 10 mins. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was a child but was given no support or medication.
I learn things in a different way from most people and because of this, I felt that I never fitted in and that nobody understood me.
I would get angry and kick off with everyone looking at me. I tried to make people laugh in a bid to be accepted and included but it didn’t work.
I excelled in Art and Design & Technology but struggled with all the other subjects.
By working hard and with determination I did manage to pass some of my exams. A fact of which I am really proud.
Rail infrastructure, I never wanted to do anything else.
Because of my ADHD and feelings of not fitting in and being excluded, I didn’t do anything for a couple of years and was receiving benefits whilst having therapy.
I really struggled for a time but after sessions with a therapist, I found the confidence to work for a building firm and did some labouring to gain experience.
Yes, ADHD is a disability and as a result of having this, I have felt excluded. That I was different from others.
Growing up I was very confident outside of school but in school, I was just labelled as a troublemaker as no one knew what was causing my behaviour or how to support me.
I am now so eager to learn. I make friends easily and love to chat. I feel included 100% with McGinley and particularly my team when I am on the job. They are so supportive.
My foster mother spotted the McGinley ad and when she showed me, I found myself thinking, is this for real?
Because it was everything I wanted. I applied but was told the roles had all been filled and I would be added to the waiting list.
Thankfully for me a couple of the candidates were not suitable, so I was given an opportunity to attend a last-minute interview. I was nervous as it was all very quick but, it went well and was very happy when I met Janet and Mia from McGinley.
They were so supportive, and this helped me to overcome my anxiety and nerves – so much so that I was told I ‘smashed it’ and offered a place. It feels so good to say I am a Rail Engineer.