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Talent of tomorrow

Robbie enjoys the hands-on element of the job and also likes working with a team

We talk to an apprentice electrician who knows what it takes to succeed and is determined to work hard and continue to learn as his career develops

Why did you want to become an electrician?

A few of my cousins are electricians, as is my dad, so that motivated me to get into the electrical industry. It helps, because if you don’t know something during the day, you can always take it home and get a hand off your family!

Was it difficult to get an apprenticeship?

I got mine through my school and I did day release, so every Thursday I got the day off school to work for John Noble. I did that for around three months and then my boss, Alastair Noble, said they were happy with how I was doing and offered me an apprenticeship which I started in January. Although I live in Edinburgh, I decided to train at Borders College after visiting with my employer.

How have you found it?

It’s a good apprenticeship. The variation of work is really good, you get a little bit of everything, and I get on really well with the boys.

Was the college training what you expected? What do you enjoy the most and is anything challenging?

In the first year of college it was all practical stuff which I grasped really well and enjoyed. The second year was a lot more theory which I don’t enjoy as much because I’m more hands-on. It’s just one of those things you’ve got to do. We all got our own booths and every week you’d go in and it would be a different kind of wiring system you were going on to, such as cable containment, plastic containment and other different things. Throughout the year you’d add to this booth and then at the end of the year you got to look back and watch it all come together. It’s quite decent watching it all come back together in the end.

“The variation of work is really good, you get a little bit of everything and I get on with the boys really well which makes life a lot easier”

How about on site?

I took to on-site work quite quickly, but sometimes it’s quite hard at the start and frustrating not knowing. You just want to be able to do everything and help out as much as you can, but sometimes obviously you can’t help with some of the jobs and you just need to take a step back and watch. Overall, being on site is good. It’s easier to learn on site and you’re doing the job that you’re going to be doing every day so really there is no better place to learn than there.

Has there been anything about the job that’s surprised you?

Not really to be honest. When I was younger and on my summer holidays I used to go out with my dad’s boys and help them. So when I was going out onto the site it was quite easy to adapt. I think I’ve always known I wasn’t fit for the office, I was always going to be more hands-on.

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

My training officer, Stuart Jack, is brilliant with all the boys and he’s always there to help you – he’s just a text away. We’ve got an ePortfolio that you do with your training officers and it’s just answering questions throughout the year, so when he comes down to the college he helps. At the college, the lecturers are brand new! I think the lecturer Dale Clancy really helped me a lot.

What does the future hold?

I’m not too sure, to be honest. Hopefully just see my time out and take it from there – hopefully while working at John Noble. I’m just taking the year as it comes and seeing what happens. There’s a lot you can do once you get your grade card because it’s such a big industry. One day, it would be good to own my own company but I think that’s a long time away. But for now, after I finish my time, I will hopefully continue to work for John Noble and gain more experience.

Do you have any advice for those considering apprenticeships or this career path?

I think nowadays it’s quite hard to get an apprenticeship so if you’ve got one, make sure you show up on time and make sure you’re showing your bosses that you’re willing to work.

I think a lot of people take apprenticeships for granted and don’t turn up on time or take the Mick a little bit, and it’s not until they get let go that they realise what they could have had in the future after their apprenticeship. There’s always going to be a need for electricians and joiners, and the trades are always kept pretty busy.


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