I have worked in the electrical contracting industry for a little over 34 years having started my career a few weeks prior to my 16th Birthday.
My father was an architect, two of my three brothers worked in construction and my grandfather was a member of the then IEE (Institute of Electrical Engineers). To some extent, a career associated with construction might have been inevitable.
Undertaking an electrical apprenticeship was the best decision I ever made. It gave me the opportunity to learn about electrical theory and the practical elements of how to install various cabling methods, containment, switchgear and electronics. Also, through interaction with other trades, I learned more about construction in general and how manufacturing processes linked together to get products out the door.
The key to a good electrical apprenticeship is variety and I was lucky enough to work on many varied projects from houses to MOD sites and chemical plants. The electricians I worked with were keen to share their knowledge.
I think I always knew that I would want to develop my career from approved electrician but having the experience gained from an apprenticeship helped me choose my path.
I went into estimating as it allowed me to use my skills and experience to visualise what was shown on a drawing as a finished project. It helped me price up designs and engage with suppliers and sub-contractors, dealing directly with the directors of the business to settle tenders. Having this engagement allowed me to further my career in management, undertaking a HNC in contracting management and later executive development at York University. During this time, I was appointed SES representative at the ECA which, using my wide knowledge of the industry, led me to be a Director and, ultimately, President of the association.
Far from restricting career choices, undertaking an apprenticeship has opened so many doors for me and allowed me to develop as I wanted, at a pace that suited me.
Mike Smith is ECA President and Estimating Director at SES Engineering Services
Pictured - Left to right - Edmundson Electrical MD Mark Felber, ECA Edmundson Apprentice of the Year 2017 Jordan Bancroft, and ECA President Mike Smith
This article was originally published by Voltimum. The original can be viewed here - https://www.voltimum.co.uk/articles/apprenticeships-focus-it-helped-me-choose