Talent of tomorrow

Graduate Paul Maxwell completed degrees in marketing and advertising before realising he wanted a different career path – starting his journey to becoming an electrician


Hi Paul, did you always want to become an electrician?

When I finished school I didn’t know what I wanted to do. One of my friends had studied marketing and enjoyed it so I applied to do that at university. After I graduated, I did a Masters in advertising but when I finished and started working, I realised it wasn’t for me. I didn’t want a nine-to-five job, I wanted to do something more hands-on. A lot of my family are electricians, so I thought it was something I could do too. I did a pre-app course and it was completely different to what I’d done before. I got on well though and enjoyed the challenge, which helped me work harder. A couple of weeks into it, I realised this was what I wanted to do.

Was it difficult to get an apprenticeship?

Companies contacted the college and they helped us find places. I started with one company but then COVID happened and, as they were a small business, they couldn’t afford to keep an apprentice on. A few weeks later the college put me in touch with Alexanders. I had the interview on the Monday and started work on the Tuesday.

How have you found it so far?

At first, I was slightly worried because I was ten years older than some of the other people in my class. But I’m doing something I enjoy so that doesn’t matter. I’ve got more life experience and I’ve got a more mature attitude when it comes to coursework and deadlines because I’ve done it before at uni, so I think that helps. I’m really enjoying it – everyone helps each other and we’ve got a really good group of lecturers.

Is the college training what you were expecting?

Obviously online learning wasn’t what I was expecting, but we’ve all had to adapt to COVID restrictions. The coursework is more advanced than I thought it would be and there’s a lot of science there. It helps me appreciate what everyone I work with has done and the hard work they’ve put in to get where they are. I really enjoy being in the group that I’m in and learning together.

And what about working on site?

Everyone I work with is really helpful. When I ask a question, they don’t just tell me the answer, they explain why that’s the case and why you do something a certain way. I’m learning so much. I’ve been working on a care home and got to see the job all the way through – wiring it up was one of my favourite things to do. It was great to experience the job all the way through, from when the site opened and it was an empty shell to seeing it finished.

“It was great to experience the job all the way through, from when the site opened and it was an empty shell to seeing it finished”

Have there been any challenges?

Some things take me longer to understand, but as long as I understand it all by my third year then I know I’ll be okay. I’m still in first year so I’ve still got time ahead of me and it’s all a big learning curve. I’ve still got a part-time job at the weekends as a sales manager. I’ve been in the job for ten years and they’re really helpful if I have any shift issues. I work some nights as well, so there are times when I’ll go from working on site straight to my other job where I’ll be until 10pm.

How helpful have the Scottish Electrical Training Trust (SECTT) and your training officers been during your journey?

They’ve been great. Our training officer answered any questions we had and would text us when we were on site to check if we had any issues. We’ve just got a new training officer who I’ve contacted a couple of times for help and he always gets back to me really quickly. Even though they’re busy guys, you’re never left sitting around waiting for an answer and the communication is excellent.

What does the future hold?

I’ve not really thought about it. I just want to get on with what I’m doing and pass my test when it comes. Starting the apprenticeship is probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I might be older than some other apprentices, but it’s never too late to start and becoming an electrician gives you a skill for life.

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