College and Council Initiative Win-Win for Students and Sport

Thursday 8th February 2024

A unique initiative between Ards and North Down Borough Council and South Eastern Regional College (SERC), is set to equip sports students with valuable experience needed for the industry whilst they gain their qualifications.

Students gain valuable industry experience

Scarlett Jenkins, (18), from Carrowdore, and Curtis Sinclair, (32), from Newtownards, are the first to secure a one-year placement through the new Student and Leisure and Fitness Associate whilst completing their BTEC Level 3 Sport at SERC’s Bangor Campus.  

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Jennifer Gilmour, said:

“This collaborative approach between SERC and the Council’s HR and Leisure service areas has helped to bring this successful scheme to fruition. It has been a long-held desire for our Leisure staff to have the opportunity to develop a working partnership with SERC and their leisure studies programme. It will help to attract students into working environments in the leisure industry, providing them with a wealth of experience during their early working life. This will not only benefit students, but it will also benefit both SERC and the Council’s Leisure Services.”

Phillip McKelvey, Curriculum Manager, Sport and Uniformed Protective Services at SERC said:

“This new initiative affords existing SERC Sports students the opportunity of one-year paid employment at the Ards Blair Mayne Wellbeing and Leisure Complex in Newtownards. As well as completing their Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport, they are enhancing their vocational qualifications, and gaining valuable experience which will support both employment and further studies.”

Sean Fegan, Operations Manager at Ards Blair Mayne Wellbeing and Leisure Complex, said:

“The new Student and Leisure and Fitness Associate programme aims to grow talent for the leisure industry. We are delighted to have Scarlett and Curtis join our team following a successful application and interview. Both students, who have been in the one-year Associate post since October 2023, have quickly become an asset to the smooth running of the Leisure Complex. In addition, both have gained Royal Life Saving Society Level 3 Awards in Pool Lifeguarding.”

The annual placement will be open to second year Sports students who will benefit from valuable work experience. Associates work on a shift pattern over four days which includes two evenings and weekends. Visit SERC for more information.