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Meeting the electrical stars of the future

SELECT Member company Aird Walker & Ralston enjoyed a visit from MSP Brian Whittle during Scottish Apprenticeship Week as SECTT once again gave a voice to the talent of tomorrow 

The value of apprenticeships was very much on the agenda when SECTT arranged for Brian Whittle MSP to take a tour of the Aird Walker & Ralston head office in Kilmarnock.

During his visit to the SELECT Member firm on 4 March, the Conservative MSP for South Scotland met 3rd Year apprentices Kieran McMillan and Greg Fraser and heard their verdicts on the Modern Apprenticeship. 

He was also given a guided tour by Aird Walker & Ralston Managing Director Gordon Christie, ably assisted by SECTT Training Officer Daniel Flanigan, who looks after apprentices at Ayrshire College and adult trainees at West College Scotland, Paisley.

During the tour, Mr Whittle heard how the company has a proud track record of investing in the talent of tomorrow, and saw first-hand how it provides a range of practical, hands-on experience for its young learners. 

Afterwards he said: “It was a pleasure to visit Aird Walker & Ralston and meet with some of its apprentices.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to enter the workplace and learn skills that can serve you for life. With renewable energy and green industries becoming a bigger and bigger part of our economy, there’s never been a better time to consider building a career as an electrician or electrical engineer.”

The visit also gave Kieran and Greg the chance to demonstrate some of their work and explain what they enjoy most about their training.

Kieran said: “An electrical apprenticeship has been a great career choice for me as it’s provided both an intellectual and physical challenge, which suits me best. 

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my apprenticeship and am continuing to gain more experience on site, taking what I’ve learned in college into the workplace. I’m becoming more confident and look forward to developing further until I gain my qualification. Then I hope to move into management or design.”

A great mix of knowledge

Greg was equally enthusiastic about his apprenticeship, adding: “I feel that I’m picking up the knowledge and skills that will benefit me when I qualify, thanks to the mix of college study and practical on-site work. The experience I’ve gained with Aird Walker & Ralston is mainly industrial but I’ve also learned a lot about domestic installations at college, which has given me broad overall knowledge. 

“I’m eager to sit my FICA when I become eligible and hope to stay at Aird Walker & Ralston when I qualify. It’s given me this opportunity and a great learning experience and I want to develop into the best electrician I possibly can be.”

Also singing the praises of the Modern Apprenticeship was MD Gordon, who said: “Training is the lifeblood of the electrical industry and history clearly shows that if you don’t train electricians there will be a serious skills shortage. 

“This shortage won’t only be of electricians, but of competent people who progress with experience and further education to become technicians, supervisors, specialised engineers and leaders – all of whom started their journey with an electrical apprenticeship.”

The best solution

Aird Walker & Ralston provides fully integrated electrical engineering solutions and support services to industrial, commercial and utility markets. 

Its many services include site cabling, motor control, switchboard and control panels, intelligent motor control centre systems and electric motor rewinds, refurbishments supply and installation.

Gordon added: “The apprenticeship provided by the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB), SECTT, employers and colleges is quite simply the best and only solution when training electricians for the future.

“The blend of classroom theory and on-site practical experience with seasoned professionals is invaluable. Each apprentice has a structured four-year programme to learn their required skillset, combined with the underpinning knowledge to progress in the electrotechnical industry and achieve industry-recognised qualifications and life skills that are invaluable for their career pathway.

“This type of apprentice-ship takes far more commitment by employers and apprentices and is more expensive, but provides the best results for all.

“Such apprentices also have a greater understanding of practical elements as well as a greater health and safety awareness.”


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