Chris Kelly


OPITO NC Multi Discipline Engineering (Process)

“In my opinion, NESCol has one of the best reputations in the UK for providing engineering courses with second-to-none instructors.” 

34-year-old Chris Kelly from Dunoon spent 12 years with the RAF Police before making the decision to return to education to study engineering. Currently undertaking the OPITO-sponsored process engineering apprenticeship, he now has his sights set on a career offshore.

Not one for school, Chris joined the RAF Police when he was 18. His career took him around the world, and he specialised in roles including dog handler, security consultant and instructor.

Chris was working as part of the International Military Police at NATO Headquarters in Belgium when he took the plunge and applied for the engineering apprenticeship.

He said: “One of the dog handlers that I met in the Falkland Islands had left the RAF, completed the course and was now fully qualified and working offshore. He inspired and motivated me to get a better education like he did.

“In my opinion, NESCol has one of the best reputations in the UK for providing engineering courses with second-to-none instructors.”

Chris was impressed with both the quality of the teaching at NESCol and the College’s facilities.

He said: “What I’ve enjoyed the most has been working with sector-experienced instructors who have backgrounds in the oil and gas industry. Everything we learn from them is real working knowledge and transferable skills.

“The facilities are top class. From the technology used, to the laboratories and workshops, it all contributes to the College’s excellent reputation. Two days a week we work with ASET inside the plant which contains simulated systems and a control room like you would find on an offshore platform. This is the element of the course that I find the most interesting.”

As well as achieving excellent grades on his course, Chris took on the role of Class Representative, working hard and advocating for his fellow students. His efforts were recently highlighted at the College’s Go Celebrate! Student Awards ceremony, where he was this year’s Go Excel! Winner.

NESCol's Go Celebrate! Award winners 2024

He said: “My class voted for me to be Class Rep and I was happy to take the position – I believe it should be a class decision. The role has allowed me to help with any issues the class has had and voice any concerns or provide feedback to the College.”

Chris is undertaking a four-year APTUS apprenticeship which involves 21 months at college followed by a two-year worksite placement. With the final two years of his apprenticeship ahead of him, Chris is preparing to be placed on the worksite where he can put his learning into practice.

He said: “After completing the four years, I hope to be employed by my sponsoring company full-time.

“I would recommend to anyone, at any stage in life, to go for it. I’ve no regrets about leaving my career in this military for this opportunity that will be truly life changing.

“I advise anyone interesting in engineering to look into the variety of courses available as there will be one you can shine in. Engineering is an ever-expanding industry and there’s no better time than now to get involved.”

More information on the APTUS apprenticeship programme, the disciplines involved and the application process can be found on the website: