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Tune in to Stark’s remarks in latest podcast episode

SELECT Vice President Mike shares his forthright views on apprentices from the employer’s perspective – and the tactics needed to inspire young leaders to reach their full potential

SELECT Member Mike Stark is well known for being a straight-talker – as he proves in the third instalment of our industry podcast, Sparks’ Remarks.

The new episode features no-holds barred views on apprentices from the SELECT Vice President, who has more than 39 years of business experience and has been supporting learners for the last eight years.

In the podcast, entitled Five-way tag teams, the proud father and a kick up the bahookie, he reveals the qualities required to become a competent electrician – and what employers need to do to guide and motivate apprentices along the way.

Mike, who works for SELECT Member firm Atalian Servest AMK, says: “I always say it’s a five-way tag team – company, college, SECTT, training officer and apprentice. 

“If someone doesn’t pull their weight or commit then it won’t work as it’s a struggle for the other four.

“For example, we had a student struggle to pass the first stage of their apprenticeship but we supported him and he passed it, absolutely flew through Stage 2 and is now doing well in Stage 3, so the support in his early stages has really helped him and made a difference.

“Sometimes, just like the ‘proud father’ some of the apprentices say they see me as, they need an arm around them as well as a hug – and we’re quick enough to give them a kick up the backside when needed too! 

“I can think of one apprentice who had a really hard couple of years and is now back on his chosen path and it’s great to see the smile back on his face. For me, the most satisfying thing is to see apprentices who’ve struggled make progress and pass.”

Hard work pays off

Mike – Director of Data Networks at the facilities management firm, which recently merged with OCS Group – goes on: “It’s been gratifying to see how support for apprenticeships has improved across the board in recent years, and communication has become better too. 

“Students are here to learn and realise they have homework and deadlines for a reason. Some have struggled but we’re working hard on improving this. Those students who have been on a pre-apprenticeship course turn up better able to take advantage of the training experience.

“Being a qualified electrician is to be a member of a safety-critical profession. Of the three key utilities – gas, water and electricity – it is electricity which is the hardest to detect and the safety risk element is a huge part of the course.

“It’s been gratifying to see how support for apprenticeships has improved across the board in recent years, and communication has become better too”

“We’re not looking for superstars, we’re looking for apprentices who are dedicated and committed to the cause of becoming electricians. We’ve had apprentices win awards at national level which is great but all of them who pass the Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA) are a success in our eyes.”

Joshua’s path to success

One apprentice who trained under Mike’s tutelage is Joshua Jones, 24, a fourth-year learner who tells the podcast how he initially studied fitness at college, but soon realised his future prospects lay in the electrical sector. 

He says: “I thought that at 19 I might be too old but learned that’s not so and instead it’s about keeping your head down and working hard. There was a good mix of people in my Edinburgh College class and while the workload was tricky, I managed to get through.”

Joshua – who recently undertook a successful FICA resit – continues: “You need to stick with it and make sure you do the extra work required. I was lucky enough to be mentored by Mike and motivated by a good group, as well as the prospect of a strong career path, travel opportunities and the earning potential.” 

Like the previous two episodes, the new podcast is produced with the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and is hosted by journalist Kim McAllister and Barrie McKay, Training and Development Manager at SECTT. 

Barrie said: “The training framework at Atalian Servest AMK is great and its strong support network is a model for other employers, so we’re hopeful this podcast will inspire others to get in touch and start the conversation about taking on more apprentices.” 



The good, the bad and the fallopian tube windups

Launch episode, with five young apprentices revealing the many challenges and behind-the-scenes pranks that they’ve encountered so far.


More than wires and pliers: My first year as an apprentice

The inside track from new learners and fourth-year trainees who are now setting their sights on rewarding careers beyond the lecture rooms.



Listen to the new podcast by going to


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