A former mechanic is living his dream of a career in engineering a decade after leaving school without the qualifications he needed to follow the traditional university route into the industry.
Paul Price, aged 27, from Rugby, Warwickshire, has been taken on in the design team of world-class engineering company Penso after completing a foundation year in engineering at Coventry University College (CUC).
Paul, who left school at the age of 16, is now studying part-time for a degree in combined engineering at CUC whilst employed at the Coventry-based company, which works with some of the world’s most prestigious vehicle brands.
He said: “Within two years of enrolling at CUC, I am effectively working as a graduate design engineer with an internationally-renowned company and studying for a degree. It’s hard to believe how far I have come in such a short space of time.
“After leaving school, I trained to be a mechanic and worked my way up to workshop manager but felt I had reached a ceiling and wanted more of a career than a job. I thought about engineering but didn’t have the qualifications for a degree course and needed to do a foundation year first.
“With my full-time job as a mechanic, I couldn’t study during working hours but CUC enabled me to fit my studies around my work and home life which made it manageable. They also gave me the confidence and belief that I could do it.”
Towards the end of his foundation year, Paul speculatively handed in his CV to Penso and was offered an administrative role which gave him an insight into the industry. Upon gaining his qualification, he was moved over to the design team.
He said: “I’m really enjoying it and my ambition is to become a senior designer with the company and to take my studies to a master’s degree so that I can achieve my full potential.”
CUC, a subsidiary of Coventry University, was opened as a new concept in higher education in September 2012 by providing innovative ways for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn.
John Dishman, director and CEO at CUC, said: “Paul is a fantastic result of what we set out to achieve with CUC – to give people an alternative, flexible and affordable route to higher education that fits around their lifestyle and needs.
“Having completed his foundation year, Paul has been able to progress onto his chosen degree with us and taken his first step on the career ladder with a world-class engineering company here in Coventry.”
Penso employs around 190 staff at its headquarters in Woodhams Road and earlier this year announced plans to almost double its workforce to build on its rapid expansion and cement its position as a leading development engineering company across Europe.
Paul Higginson, chief engineer of design at Penso, said: “Paul has been a breath of fresh air within the design team at Penso. His initial work experience as a mechanic, complemented by his foundation certificate has empowered him to change his career.
“Engineering resource demand is currently at a premium and Paul has enabled us to identify a pool of untapped potential engineers who can follow his roadmap to success.’’