Why did you decide to join the electrical trade?
I decided to start an electrical apprenticeship because I knew it was technically challenging. I had looked into it when I was at school and I saw the benefits of using the transferable, vocational skills that I had built up during resistant materials lessons and working alongside my dad, a self-employed joiner. I also enjoyed maths and physics at school so I was confident I could handle the technical side. Of all the trade apprenticeships available, I was certain that an electrical apprenticeship could help enhance the skills I already had and add a valuable string to my bow.
Did your school encourage you to take an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships weren’t promoted enough at school. I had to find my own route to it – mainly through my dad being in a trade. He knew the value that a trade can bring and it was mainly through working with him, and his friends who are electricians, in my spare time and on holidays that I got the insight into the trade. For people who aren’t exposed to those experiences, I can see how their choices could be limited.
Did you approach your apprenticeship with a career goal in mind?
I’ve always broken my career up into short-term goals and long-term goals. The short-term goals were, basically, the points you find on the application form for an apprenticeship which allows you to become a professional electrician. Completing those stages felt like a big achievement, especially after all of the time at college, exams and hours of extra work put in to get experience. Along the way, as I was developing and saw the chance to take on project management and testing and inspection opportunities, I saw that there was more to the industry and I wanted to learn more about it. This helped me focus on more long-term goals. I wanted to become an established project manager, I wanted to study further and see where I could develop my qualifications. This has led me to look at getting my HNC in electrical and electronic engineering and then a degree.
Looking ahead, what would represent your “I’ve made it” moment?
I want to be a Chartered Engineer. I would like to be a fully established project manager by the age of 23. Then, I think it's achievable that I can be a chartered engineer by 28.
Do you feel the industry could do more to paint a more ambitious picture of electrotechnical apprenticeships?
I’d like to see apprenticeships divided up. Rather than just aiming in one direction - to become an electrician - I think there could be more categories of electrotechnical apprenticeship available. Some can offer a more technical, design-based curriculum – maybe covering system integration, so there are clearer roots to different aspect of electrical engineering and you come away from it with a different set of skills. Even if it’s a case of using your initiative finding the extra training yourself, it would be great if there was some kind of guidance towards short courses and other opportunities that can advise young electricians on how they can upskill and areas they could specialise in. Having said that, it also depends on the apprentice. My dad has always told me, ever since I started school, “You’ve got to be proactive, you’ve got to go and question things and work things out for yourself. To be successful you need that career drive, you need to think about what you can do with your qualifications otherwise you end up waiting for opportunities like everyone else. You’ve got to try and be unique because that’s what makes you valued. The more skills you gain, the more you show interest and initiative, then you become the part of the team that is missed the most.”
Pictured (left to right) - ECA Immediate Past President Dave Kieft, Harry Bartle, Edmundson Electrical MD Mark Felber
The above is a taster of an interview conducted by Voltimum Editor Dan Tovey. To read the full interview, please visit www.voltimum.co.uk/articles/apprenticeship-focus-bright-future