Re-visit the apprentice – Dale Dunlop, TPS Weldtech

For the launch of the Skills Centre of Excellence within Irvine Royal Academy on 18 February 2015, TPS Weldtech apprentice Dale Dunlop spoke to invited guests about his unique pathway into an apprenticeship.

We have re-packaged his thoughts from last year for Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016, and have spoken to Dale to get an update on how he’s progressing.


Dale’s story is unique in the sense that he stayed on for sixth year at Irvine Royal Academy, while he began his college journey.

Through partnership working between the Irvine school and Ayrshire College, Dale was able to find a balance that suited him and his situation.

Fresh from a rejection from TPS Weldtech for an electrical engineer apprenticeship – solely due to his colour-blindness – Dale was unsure what his next step would be. Would he stay on for his final year at secondary school? Would he move onto college? Or would he look at other apprenticeship?

It’s a common dilemma for many young people. Dale’s solution was to start a Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) course at the college, while taking on a few more Highers at Irvine Royal.

The option to balance school with college is becoming an increasingly attractive option.

Dale said “It worked out great for me, I would recommend it to anyone. The school helped me apply to college, which meant I got a PEO Level 2 through the college, plus I got my Higher grades here for graphic design and a couple of other subjects.

“The College gave me some time if I needed to go into school to do stuff, and vice versa. If I wasn’t so busy at school, I could go to college and do more there. The college and the school spoke to each other well and I managed to balance my life between them with no bother.”


Soon after, TPS Weldtech came calling to offer Dale a different apprenticeship within the company.

Dale said “I got the job as soon as I left school. I actually got a phone call saying they were looking to take on someone else. I was offered a job which was a lot more mechanical based.”

Steven Dunsmuir, Service & Automation Manager at TPS Weldtech, said “The fact that he came to us already having his SVQ Level 2 Performing Engineering Operations was a massive bonus to me because it put him a year ahead, or level pegging, with a first year apprentice. So that was very beneficial.

“I think the skills that they learn at Ayrshire College benefit them within the workplace. The breadth of knowledge and the practical experience that they gain at the college certainly sets them up well for the world of work.”


Dale is now finishing his 2nd year of his apprenticeship and is still really enjoying the role.

He said “The tradesman gives me jobs now and I’m under my own instructions to do it. So you get your head down and batter into it.

“We’re getting a lot of new jobs that we have to get our heads around, particularly oil and gas related jobs. You learn something new every day, but it’s getting to the stage now where you need to improve.”

Watch Dale discuss the route he took to his apprenticeship.

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