Ben’s triumph in the face of adversity to win SJIB Apprentice of the Year
Talented young dad reveals how he overcame difficulties in his personal life to secure the 2022 title, in conjunction with Edmundson Electrical
How does it feel to win SJIB Apprentice of the Year 2022?
I was absolutely delighted to get the news. My wife phoned me at work as she’d opened the letter and told me I’d won. It was a shock as I wasn’t expecting it but it’s a massive achievement for me and the company.
Why did you want to be an electrician?
When I was younger I used to help my dad out as a plumber’s mate so I was exposed to the trades at an early stage. Funnily enough, when I was at T in the Park I came across an electrician who was daft as a brush but he told me about all the stuff he was doing and I found it really interesting. I’d always wanted to do something hands-on and a career as an electrician stuck out more than the rest.
Was your apprenticeship what you expected and what did you enjoy?
I really enjoyed my apprenticeship and going to college was great, but I loved my time on the tools on site. However, COVID-19 made it difficult in 2020 and my son developed health issues, which meant I missed out on a lot during my first year and part of my second year. However, I had great support from the company who said to me ‘be a dad first’ and that the apprenticeship would always be there for me. They allowed me to take time off and have been absolutely fantastic in supporting me.
I’m very indebted to the company and also feel that my success is due to the people around me. That’s why I’ve worked hard and getting this award is a great way of paying them all back.
How was the college training?
It was completely new to me as I’ve never had any aspirations to go to college before. I had to work hard on my physics to understand all the measurements and calculations you have to do as an electrician.
How about the experience of working on site with other trained electricians?
It’s been a steep learning curve but the guys have been great and even though some of the other apprentices have moved on to other parts of the business, we’re still good friends.
I’m very inquisitive by nature and one of the tradesmen I worked with in my first year told me there is no such thing as a daft question if you don’t know the answer. Knowledge is power, so you have to keep striving to learn more.
I owe a lot to him and he helped a great deal during my career – in fact, he was the best man at my wedding!
How helpful did you find the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and your training officer?
SECTT and my Training Officers were helpful with my college work when I was sometimes off looking after my son. They were great at answering my questions regarding college work and pushing me when deadlines had to be met.
Do you have any advice for others considering an apprenticeship?
I believe it’s the best way to learn and earn at the same time – you learn as you go along and you get better through the practical experience of working with others. In university you’re just sitting in a school for four years, racking up debt and then you have to get experience of work afterwards.
What does the future hold?
I’ve been made up to Charge Hand, so I’m delighted about that. I’ll be working with the workshop manager supporting the team and liaising with the office about work programmes and design reviews. I want to use this as a stepping stone in my career. I have aspirations to be an electrical designer.
Lloyd Scott, Electrical Operations Manager, Ross-shire Engineering Ltd
I’m personally delighted for Ben and this achievement is a real pat on the back for his perseverance, as I realise how hard he has worked for it. It was a struggle for him in the first one-and-a-half years with his personal circumstances but we were glad to support him by moving him to our Dalgety Bay manufacturing facility, which was nearer his home. That gave him the stability and reassurance that allowed him to flourish.
Technically he’s very clever, he learns quickly and retains information, and he always has a very positive outlook. He’s also very inquisitive – he’d launch 200 questions at you if there was something he didn’t know, but he’s also keen to get involved in things he wasn’t sure about. His experience was good for the manufacturing team when he moved to Dalgety Bay as, coming from the project delivery side of our business, he was used to dealing with lots of variables. Therefore he brought a different approach and was well equipped to deal with challenges in manufacturing.
The other apprentices have learned from him and since he has finished his time he has become a bit of a mentor to apprentices throughout the business.
We’ve promoted him to a Charge Hand and I can see him having a great career with us as he continues to develop. It’s been quite a successful year for Ross-shire Services as, in addition to Ben winning Apprentice of the Year, one of our other apprentices also came runner-up in the competition, and in February another from our Inverness office scored the highest mark in the FICA.