Apprentices from both ends of the electrical training journey have once again revealed their behind-the-scenes secrets in the second episode of the new industry podcast from the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and electrical trade association SELECT.
The latest instalment of Sparks’ Remarks features the thoughts of five youngsters as they reflect on their first year of training, discuss how much they’ve learned and compare notes on their progress in both self-confidence and practical skills.
The episode – entitled More than wires and pliers: My first year as an apprentice – also hears from three fourth-year apprentices who are now setting their sights on rewarding careers beyond the lecture rooms of West Lothian College as they prepare to put their training into practice.
Both groups talk frankly about their experience at college and on-site, the complexity of the courses and the support they have received from the dedicated trainers guiding them.
And Anne Galbraith, CEO of SECTT – which manages high-quality training on behalf of the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) – said: “It’s wonderful to listen to this second episode and hear how well our learners are progressing and embracing their opportunity.
“It’s clear that they appreciate the support they receive from college staff and lecturers, and that they’re beginning to understand the social and economic importance of the roles they are being trained to play.”
The first half of the podcast once again catches up with first-year learners Fay Greens and Mason Arthurs who work for West Lothian Council, Nick Anderson of Glasgow Rewires Ltd, Robbie Super of Everwarm Ltd and Aaron Muir from Westrigg Electrical Services.
The trainees – who were introduced in the first episode back in April – reveal their progress and how they have advanced from not being able to hold a screwdriver properly to taking part in domestic installations.
One says: “I didn’t realise at the start just how much an electrician has to do but I’ve now learned how to do a complete installation, taking the skills from the workshop into a real-life situation and testing everything to make sure it is safe and working properly.”
Another reveals: “The variety of work has really surprised me and we’ve learned about design as well as practical work and how measurements have to be 100% accurate – you really have to do things correctly all the time.”
Support from college staff is also a theme, with a third admitting: “You have to listen because if you miss something, it could be the difference between passing and failing a course. But the lecturers definitely want us to pass and often go into their own time to break things down and help us understand everything.”
Aimed at existing and would-be apprentices, Sparks’ Remarks also features three apprentices at the other end of their training who are in their fourth year and now looking forward to a challenging career both at home and further afield.
One tells the podcast: “While the first year focuses on domestic work, I have now progressed to commercial and industrial installations, and I have recently been involved in the complete wiring of a warehouse. We also work on new tech, such as rechargers.”
Another says: “Some people struggle with the science, but you just have to listen to the lecturers. They expect a lot of you, but there is no need to be embarrassed or afraid to ask questions – they are there to help you.”
The new release follows April’s launch episode, The good, the bad and the fallopian tube windups, with the budding electrical talent once again talking to journalist Kim McAllister and Barrie McKay, Training and Development Manager at SECTT.
Barrie said: “Once again, I have been really impressed by the young stars of Sparks’ Remarks and it’s clear their work ethic is strong and they really want to succeed in their chosen career.
“If they can take on these responsibilities at the age of 16 or 17, they can acquire the tools which will allow them to progress in their company, or perhaps even start their own business. Who knows, they may even take on apprentices of their own one day?”
Iain Mason, Director of Membership and Communications at SELECT, said: “It is accepted now that the future is electric and these young people and hundreds of others like them will be crucial as the industry helps our transformation into a net zero society.
“This second episode of the podcast reinforces the dedication involved and emphasises that there are no short cuts to creating a skilled workforce that can work safely with the renewables technology that is developing at a rapid rate.”
The podcast comes during a record year for electrical apprenticeships in Scotland, with 934 apprentices and adult trainees recruited for the 2022/23 intake and extra financial support secured for the 2023/24 intake after lobbying by SELECT, SECTT, the SJIB and Unite the Union.
Listen to the second episode of the new Sparks’ Remarks podcast here.