Student Story: Dougie Bertram - Engineering

Introducing Dougie Bertram, a Motor Vehicle student proving that it's never too late to learn and that you can balance studying with busy family life.

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you came to D&A?

I’m a Kirriemuir lad and I got to know a boy called Steve Oakley - this was pre Covid, and he started the whole conversation about what I was interested in doing for a career. That is where my journey to studying started. He suggested that I try college to gain a qualification in Motor Vehicle, I replied with ‘What at my age?!’ He assured me that I would be surprised at the amount of people who come to college at my age. After some time of thinking about it, I thought, ‘You know what, let’s just do it’. I did it and I got accepted into college, this was prior to the pandemic, so of course when that hit, it became really difficult to complete and concentrate on college work with my children running around. It was just too much and impossible. After a discussion with Steve Swinley, we decided that it would be better for me to postpone my journey at D&A and not cancel it as I was really enjoying it. About a year after Covid, I bumped back into Steve Oakley at the Beavers where my son attends, and he suggested that I started to pick it all back up again now that things had settled. So, I applied again, and I got accepted again, and it is going great. I’m now just waiting with fingers crossed that I get my apprenticeship at the end of this year.

What have you got going on outside of College?

I have a lot going on outside of College and learning. I have young kids at home - I have a daughter who does football, and I am involved with her team. I am also training to be a leader in the Scouts with my other daughter, and I do the Beavers with my son too. This is most weeknights, apart from a Tuesday and Friday night that I keep for myself, where I build my Lego, Star Wars and Technic Cars, as well as catch up on TV. It keeps me busy and out of the pub!

How do you balance coming to College with your personal interests and home life?

Balancing my life outside of College is easy as I have a very understanding partner, she is great and she actually pushed me to come back to College and pick up where I had left off prior to Covid. I was struggling with the decision as the kids had gotten so used to me being at home and so had I, but between her and Steve Oakley they persuaded me to come back. We knew it would be a difficult transition, but she saw how bored I was at home and knew that I needed to do something, so we have worked it out. It has all worked out great and been absolutely brilliant! Even with the work experience element at a garage in Arbroath, we have adapted and conquered and worked together to make it work. We balance everything well.

What are the highlights of your College journey so far?

The highlight of my College journey so far has been Shaun! His ways of teaching are fantastic as he treats you like an adult and equal. He sees your potential and pushes you to be the best that you can be. He keeps the class going and gets everyone aiming as high as they can. His industry knowledge and the way that he teaches in the workshop is the best. He has not long come from industry, and it shows, as he is so up to date with everything that he is trying to teach us.

What’s next for you, what are your goals?

Hopefully next I will get an apprenticeship at the garage where I am completing my work experience. I have kept my head down and shown them what I am capable of, and I get on really well with them all at the garage. I was a bit scared to be honest with you, I am 45 years old, and thought it might be difficult for them to approach me, and for me to approach them due to my age and there being a stereotype that apprentices are young people. I should not have worried as we get on like a house on fire. In fact, I think they were glad to have someone more mature as I did not stand around waiting to be given jobs, I would pick up a brush and clear up if I was finished with any tasks and keep the workshop clean and clear. I am hopefully to see out my apprenticeship there and then in three to four years, I will be a fully qualified mechanic. My goal is to be on my own as a mobile mechanic that does both valet and mechanics. I would love to have my own van and have clients that I can go around and offer both services to.

I would have to say that if anyone my age is thinking about coming to College, they should just do it! I had no fear about coming here after having a conversation and finding out that College and learning are not just for the young ones!

If Dougie has inspired you, browse our Engineering courses.

Look out for more student stories coming soon!