The next generation
We meet apprentice Sean Bermingham at SELECT Member firm Ross-shire Engineering Ltd
The theme of this year’s Scottish Apprentice Week was ‘unlocking potential’ – and Sean Bermingham is certainly doing that.
Although coming relatively late to the industry, the 32-year-old has made up for lost time and recently achieved a near-perfect score in his Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA), notching an impressive 100% for Sections A to E and 90% for Section F.
Sean is now pursuing his passion for all things electrical at SELECT Member company Ross-Shire Engineering (RSE) Ltd and taking his first steps on what he hopes will be a rewarding electrical career journey.
He told us: “I never really decided exactly what I wanted to do when I left school and just had a couple of jobs. I then ended up in a different part of the business at RSE, got an insight into the electrical stuff and took an interest from there.
“The electrical industry is rapidly growing and is something the whole world relies on, so the variety of work and career pathways just interested me – you can go in a lot of different directions with an electrical trade under your belt.”
After overcoming the culture shock of going back to the classroom at Inverness College, Sean smashed his FICA in January 2023 – with a little help from the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT).
He revealed: “College was a bit of a shock to begin with after not being in school for so long, but it was well structured and had a good mix of practical learning and classroom learning.
“SECTT also provided loads of support throughout my apprenticeship, with loads of presentations and documents containing all the information you need to pass your exam.
“After doing the FICA I was very nervous while I waited for the results to come in for about a week. I kind of knew I’d done well enough to pass it, but I was very happy when it came through.”
After gaining the knowledge and skills required to progress his career, Sean has now made the leap from electrical apprentice to electrical design engineer thanks to RSE.
He added: “As we were finishing our apprenticeships, we were offered the chance to make the switch into electrical design and become an engineer, with RSE offering to support the chance of further education via an HNC or degree. It was just a sort of trial to begin with to see if we liked it and, if not, we could have gone back to working on the tools.”
It’s just one of the advantages of working for a forward-thinking company like RSE, which – among other things – delivers power distribution control systems to the water industry.
Based in Inverness, the company has more than three decades of experience in water treatment technologies, with apprentices a key part of the business, as Electrical Operations Manager Lloyd Scott explained.
He told SELECT: “As a business, we need apprentices to fulfill our needs, as what we do is quite niche and isn’t run of the mill. An electrician is an electrician but what we do isn’t a standard product, so we train apprentices up to meet our business needs.
“Since I took over my role, we’ve probably put about 48 or 49 apprentices through from start to finish.
“Young people are keen to learn, willing to put the hours in and work hard. But over and above that, it maintains the industry because if we don’t have young people coming through, the industry is going to die off.”
The RSE colleagues also had a simple message for anyone considering an electrical apprenticeship.
Sean said: “You’re earning and learning at the same time, so I’d definitely recommend it to anyone of any age and would’ve liked to have done it when I was a bit younger.
“It’s definitely a good career to get into and there are loads of different pathways you can go down – everything revolves around electricity so you’re never going to be stuck for work.”
And Lloyd added: “After four years of serving your apprenticeship and successfully passing your trade test, the world’s your oyster.
“I also couldn’t encourage a business enough because if you want to survive, you need to keep the young blood coming through.”
WATCH THE VIDEO
Sean and Lloyd spoke to SELECT in a special video for Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which ran from 6-10 March with the theme ‘unlocking potential’. Scan the code to watch the video or go to bit.ly/saw-vid
ROSS-SHIRE ENGINEERING (RSE) LTD
BRANCH: Inverness and North of Scotland
PHONE: 01463 870 049