Talent of Tomorrow
Dean Callan was named Apprentice of the Year by bosses at SELECT Member business TClarke, which also saw him awarded a place on their Future Leaders Programme
Why did you want to become an electrician?
I’ve always liked working with my hands and technology. My dad also works in the construction industry so when I told him about my interests, he suggested being an electrician. I’d also done a short course in high school called Practical Electronics, and I enjoyed working with electricity, building something and watching it work at the end. I tied the two together and that’s why I’m here.
How did you find your apprenticeship?
I really enjoyed it. It gives you a wide insight into the industry so that by the end of it you’ve got your trade but you also have a general idea of what direction you want to go down.
It does have its difficult moments, but so does everything!
Was the college training what you expected?
I expected to learn how to wire a house or an installation and connect it all up, but it was quite good to then see what happens behind the scenes too, like what happens in the office, quantity surveying, take-off sheets and the design side of things. It was good to see all the things that you don’t often see on a site and gain experience in it.
What did you enjoy the most and was anything challenging?
I think the project part of it was probably the most challenging just because there’s so much you have to do in quite a limited space of time. But it’s probably also the most enjoyable part, because by the end of it you’ve got this big portfolio of drawings that you’ve designed yourself and you’ve also gained experience in things like pricing the job and testing. That was great to have and look back on at all that you’ve achieved.
How about on site?
I started off as a 16-year-old in retail, so coming out onto a building site is a culture shock. You’re getting up early in the morning and working hard but the guys look after you. My supervisor Barry Scott and my tradesman at the time, James McMilan, were two really good, knowledgeable guys who showed me the trade and showed me as much as they could. Barry still supports me as my supervisor now, so it’s been really good.
Has there been anything about the job that’s surprised you?
I think once you’ve done your time as an apprentice and you’re going out it’s quite surprising that an electrician is just given a site and that’s it. You’ll maybe see your supervisor once or twice a week, but it’s up to you to organise your work, make sure you’ve got enough materials, and liaise with site agents and the other trades. I always thought that was done for you – not in a lazy way! I like it, though, because it means I have to organise myself, but you do still have a supervisor who will come out and make sure it’s all done properly.
How helpful have the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and your training officers been during your journey?
They’re really helpful. I’ve had two training officers and they were really supportive. I didn’t really have any issues, but I know of a few apprentices who did. They got in contact with their training officer and they were out as soon as they could to help find a resolution. They’re always there and always willing to help. They’ll visit you at least once a year out on site just to see where you are and what skills you’ve learned. They are really beneficial.
“I want to be the person making the tough decisions and moving the company in a direction that’s good for the future”
How does it feel to be named TClarke’s Apprentice of the Year and be the first Scottish winner in the competition’s ten-year history?
It’s definitely something I couldn’t have done without the support of people from the Scotland office. They’ve been with me every step of the way and helped train me. It’s a massive achievement and I find it difficult to put into words. I’m really pleased and proud that I’ve been given that opportunity to be recognised. I’m now on the TClarke Future Leaders Programme because of it, where I’m going to be shown different aspects of the business and they’re going to train me to be a future leader in the company. It’s all a bit surreal, and very gratifying!
What does the future hold?
I’d like to move up in the company.
I really enjoy my work, and I enjoy being out on site, but I’d also like to grow and progress to see myself in an operational or managerial role. I want to be the person making the tough decisions and moving the company in a direction that’s good for the future.
Do you have any advice for those considering apprenticeships?
Follow your dreams and listen to your gut. If it’s something you think you might want to do, then you need to go for it. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re at college, but stick in because there’s so much knowledge that gets passed to you in such a small space of time and it’s easy to miss the really important things that’ll just give you that edge. Without doing that, I wouldn’t have been recognised by SECTT to do the Apprentice of the Year competition. It’s a really important and crucial stage to just really get stuck in.