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Celebrating bright futures

Meet Patrick Henderson and Cameron Wood, the winners of Apprentice of the Year 2020 and 2021

Cameron Wood

Age: 21

Works: JS Hardie Electrical

Studied: Borders College, Galashiels

Apprentice of the Year?

I was really surprised when I found out. I definitely didn’t expect to win and I was really pleased. It’s made all the hard work and all the sleepless nights worthwhile.

Why did you want to be an electrician?

I had no idea what I wanted to do. Getting a trade had crossed my mind but I didn’t know how to get into it. I did work experience with Dave at JS Hardie for a week and I enjoyed it – it was much better than being in school! I’d been on the tools a little bit all through my life with my dad because he’s a joiner and he’s the one that suggested I try it out for work experience. Later, I got a call from Dave while I was doing my exams and jumped at the chance to start working for him full time with an apprenticeship.

Was your apprenticeship what you expected?

I had a brief idea of what I’d be doing from my work experience. During that time, I’d been doing simple jobs, like wiring smoke alarms, and when I started working, that’s what I was doing. I started with things like testing and running cables – all the easy stuff – and then progressed to more difficult jobs as time went on. The work I do now I’m qualified is mainly domestic and agricultural work – it ranges from rewires and testing to putting up floodlights in farm sheds. We do the occasional new build as well and it’s always different.

How was the college training?

I did enjoy it, but I was quite surprised at the amount of theory that was involved. When I left high school, I was quite happy thinking I’d never have to write another essay, but I wrote more in college than I ever did in school! The work was quite challenging – there was a lot of physics involved but I picked it up more easily than I had in school.

How about on site?

I enjoyed the practical work the most and picked it up fairly easily. On site, everything is different. In college, the work that you do is in a perfect environment, but on a building site or in a house, nothing is perfect and there’s always something that can trip you up. Every day on site is different and I enjoy the variation and being out working. I probably enjoy rewires and new builds the most, seeing something progress from an empty building to a functional house. Seeing them develop makes me feel proud and it’s very rewarding to see it from cables being run to a proper, finished house. I also enjoy wiring fuse boards as well and take pride in making them as neat as I can.

Do you have any advice for others considering an apprenticeship?

Just stick in and study. There isn’t a secret answer to it, it’s just studying. If you’ve got a spare half hour then look at your books – it really adds up. I also wrote things out, again and again, to learn them, especially things like the safe isolation procedures to make sure that I really knew them and had them in the right order.

How helpful did you find the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and your training officer?

They were great. I asked for help in the lead-up to my exams and if I emailed them they were always very prompt getting back to me and there were never any problems. The training officers are really easy to talk to and always happy to answer any questions.

What does the future hold?

I’m not entirely sure yet. I’m just trying to save some money and trying to decide what I’d like to do. I haven’t got a solid plan yet. I’ve still got plenty of time to think about it.


Employer’s view

David Hardie, Director, JS Hardie

Cammy’s a worthy winner of the award. He picks things up well and he’s not scared to ask when he doesn’t know something. You’re always learning in this job – every day’s a school day and I still come across things that I’ve not seen before and need to work out. His knowledge of the regs is brilliant – he keeps me right! He’s very knowledgeable and he’s also very particular – everything’s always very neat and tidy. He’s also very conscientious and all the customers who have worked with him say he’s a good worker.

He’d worked with his dad before starting with me and that helped him out with things like cleaning and tidying up.

It meant he had the right attitude and was ready to work. I’m sure he’s got a great future ahead of him and he’ll do well.


Patrick Henderson

Age: 23

Works: Atalian Servest AMK

Studied: Forth Valley College, Falkirk

How do you feel about winning Apprentice of the Year?

When I started my apprenticeship, it didn’t even cross my mind that I’d win an award. I just saw it as a job but it turns out I was good at it! I was surprised when I heard I was getting the award. It’s quite strange because it happened a while ago and now I’m qualified but I’m happy that I’ve achieved it. A lot of the credit goes to the training I got at college and the really good lecturers I had, plus all the help from the company and the tradesmen I’ve worked with. I’ve had a lot of continuing support throughout my apprenticeship from Mike Stark with the structured training plan he provides, and whenever there were questions to be asked he was always available to help or point me in the right direction.

Why did you want to be an electrician?

I’ve always had an interest in it. My older cousin was an electrician and it always sounded good so I thought I’d go for it as well.

Was your apprenticeship what you expected?

At first, it was harder than I had expected. Atalian Servest AMK are more a commercial company and the work we undertake is different to what I’d heard about and expected. I enjoy the challenging sides of the job more than the easy sides. I was quite nervous before my Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA) but once I got started the nerves settled a bit and I just treated it as a job rather than as a test. Then when I finished my apprenticeship and qualified, I’d only been working for a few months before lockdown hit. I couldn’t wait to get back to work afterwards.

How was the college training?

I didn’t know what to expect with college but I’d enjoyed doing physics a lot in school and obviously that features a lot so college was good. You learn a lot that you don’t learn on site, and it covers all the theory that’s just as important as the practical side. At first, the biggest challenge was remembering things, like circuitry and how things are wired. Now it’s become second nature, but when you begin there’s a lot of new skills to pick up and take in. You go in knowing nothing and you’re learning different ways of doing things.

How about on site?

I’m always interested in things I’ve never done before so working on site has been great. It’s always challenging and a lot of the job involves quite a bit of problem solving – working in old buildings where you need to find a way through. The containment work was quite tricky at the start but I’ve got a lot more experience now and it becomes easier. I like getting the chance to be on jobs from start to finish and seeing the transformation – watching a building site turn into a hotel or an office. Seeing that end result is something I really enjoy.

What does the future hold?

I want to go as far as I can in my career, I’ve been clear about that since day one. I’m currently doing my HNC in electrical engineering, which Atalian Servest AMK has supported me to carry out at night school. They’re still investing in me and I’m still training. I wanted to do it now while I’m still young and getting experience. I’ve also applied for my Advanced Competence Assessment (ACA). I’m really pleased this is the career path I followed and I feel like I’ve made the right choice.

Do you have any advice for others considering an apprenticeship?

Stick at it. There are good days and bad days but keep at it and keep asking questions.


Employer’s view

Mike Stark, Director at Atalian Servest AMK

We’re all so proud that Patrick’s been given this award and he absolutely deserves it. From day one, Patrick knew what he wanted to do and what his end goal was. He’s very dedicated and he knows what he wants to do. When he started, he pretty much said he wanted my job and that’s what I wanted to hear. It shows his approach to things. I remember him phoning me after his FICA and he wasn’t sure how he’d done – when we got the results he’d got 98 per cent overall.

We have a great dedication to our apprentices and like to take them on a journey from day one to when they complete their apprenticeship. But we can only do so much, the remainder is down to the application and commitment of the apprentice.

I’ve got so much respect for what SJIB and Edmundson are doing to recognise what Patrick’s achieved, despite COVID-19. I’m really pleased they decided to continue with it and recognise the work of the apprentices. They deserve it.


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