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Apprentices reveal hilarious pranks in new SECTT podcast with SELECT


SECTT has launched a new light-hearted apprentice podcast with SELECT in which young learners reveal the behind-the-scenes highlights and challenges of their training.


The first episode of Sparks’ Remarks sees five Scottish apprentices sharing laughs and stories about some of the pranks they and their colleagues have experienced during their time in the classroom and on-site.


Aimed at existing and would-be apprentices, the youngsters talk frankly about the ups and downs of getting to grips with such a challenging discipline – and the companionship and fun that comes with it.


One learner reveals: “One boy on my course was sent to look for fallopian tubes; he was walking around the site all day asking people and they were saying, ‘No, I didn’t bring mine today’.”


Another reveals: “I know someone who go sent to look for a left-handed screwdriver – they were away for ages.”


While a third tells listeners: “One of my mates was told he had to make a video of how to carry stuff properly on-site, so he pretended to walk about with a wheelbarrow filled with electrical equipment.”


The Sparks’ Remarks podcast also has a serious side, with apprentices revealing the things they find most challenging – including early starts and cold mornings – and the support they receive from tutors and employers as they learn their trade.


One youngster reveals: “I wouldn’t try to sugar-coat it – it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but it’s definitely worth it in the end if you get your head down and get a trade.”


The launch episode – entitled The Good, The Bad And The Fallopian Tube Windups – is the first in a series of podcasts that see the electrical talent of tomorrow open up to journalist Kim McAllister and Barrie McKay, Training and Development Manager at SECTT.


The opening 15-minute show hears the thoughts of five first-year learners from West Lothian College –  Fay Greens and Mason Arthurs who work for West Lothian Council, Nick Anderson of Glasgow Rewires Ltd, Robbie Super of Everwarm Ltd and Aaron Muir from Westrigg Electrical Services.


Barrie said: “Sparks’ Remarks is designed to be a light-hearted and honest reflection of what apprentices really think of their training journey. So in this first episode they make it clear that there’s a lot of hard work, but there’s a lot of fun and camaraderie to be had too.


“The electrical apprenticeship is not an easy course, but hopefully this podcast shows how learners are supported every step of the way. As we release each episode, it will also be great to see how the talent of tomorrow is shaping up and taking their future into their own hands.”


Produced by Paisley-based creative agency Connect Communications, future episodes of Sparks’ Remarks will see apprentices reflecting on what they’re learned during their first year in the classroom and on-site, with older learners also handing down invaluable advice.


Anne Galbraith, CEO of SECTTwhich manages high-quality training on behalf of the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB)said: “It’s been a delight to listen to this podcast and hear the enthusiasm with which these apprentices are embarking on what, for many people, can be a very steep and daunting learning curve.


“It is good to hear about the support that they receive, not only from their employers, college staff and lecturers, but also from the electrical professionals on site who take time to help them learn their trade in the best possible way.”


Iain Mason, Director of Membership and Communications at SELECT, added: “We’re really excited to be putting these episodes together and are already looking forward to hearing more stories from apprentices across the country.


“By hearing real voices from Scotland’s electrical apprentices, hopefully we can encourage more talented young learners to join a rewarding industry which is already playing a key part in all of our lives.”


The new podcast comes during a record year for electrical apprenticeships in Scotland, with 934 apprentices and adult trainees recruited for the 2022/23 intake.


It also comes just weeks after SECTT, SJIB and SELECT welcomed additional funding for electrical apprentices and adult trainees following a plea to government – but insisted that support must continue to prevent future shortfalls of talent.


The bodies say it is “worrying” that extra places may not be funded in 2023 and beyond – and insists the Scottish Government must support the sector by providing full funding for those seeking to be apprentice electricians and help the country on its journey to net zero.


Listen to the first episode of the new Sparks’ Remarks podcast here.



Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2023

The Scottish Apprenticeship week 2023 visit was arranged through SECTT, Gordon Penman the SECTT Training Officer met with Clare Adamson MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw at CS Electrical Ltd.


Craig Stewart, the owner of CS Electrical Ltd, started the business in 2016 and has been growing year on year covering Domestic, Industrial and Commercial sectors.


Craig tied in with myself as I started this role as Training Officer for Lanarkshire (early 2020) to ask about how he can take on an apprentice and to also support someone in North Lanarkshire. At the time Ryan Brown now in stage 3 – 4th year was made redundant in his 1st year as an apprentice and was part of a Scottish news item on TV as Ryan and his partner had just had a new born baby.


I brought this to Craig’s attention at the time, he took the chance on Ryan and offered him a start. Craig was grateful for the SDS ‘Adopt an Apprentice’ grant which helped him to support Ryan in his first few months with him.


Ryan has gained a lot of good experience and stated “I have learned so much since joining CS Electrical as we cover a wide range of the electrical industry, I am grateful that Craig took a chance on me”.


Craig has since started a new 1st year apprentice, Cole Saunders, who is currently going into his 3rd stage 1 block at New College Lanarkshire – Motherwell Campus. He is also hopeful to continue with another new apprentice for the 2023/24 intake by taking on another local boy or girl in North Lanarkshire.


Clare Adamson – MSP Motherwell and Wishaw

Loraine Duncan – Constituency Office (not in the photo)

Jacqueline McCutcheon Constituency Office Intern (not in the photo)

Craig Stewart – Owner CS Electrical Ltd

Ryan Brown – Stage 3 / 4th Year Apprentice

Gordon Penman – SECTT Training Officer – Lanarkshire

Emma Slavin – Skills Development Scotland

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2023 Scott Burnside

Scott Burnside the SECTT Training Officer met with Finlay Carson MSP on a visit to SVM Port Services at Cairnryan.

Jay Gallacher apprentice electrician said “I enjoy my apprenticeship as I learn new things everyday.  Also at SVM I get two sides of electrical work, such as PIC work and working in houses.”

Marco Sandford apprentice electrician said “I enjoy my apprenticeship as I gain new skills and knowledge through my tradesman and other work colleagues.  I also learn within my college course.  I enjoy working in houses doing rewires or new builds.”

Russell Miller the apprentices Tradesman said “Apprentices are important to the company for us to pass on experience and skill set to the next generation.  It is also important for us to try and generate employment in the area.  The apprentices are progressing well at the college.”

Finlay Carson MSP said “Apprentices are a vital part of businesses succession planning.  An opportunity for school leavers who want practical and theoretical training.  Apprenticeships are even more important in rural areas where travel to college can be an issue.”

Frank Mitchell the Chair of Skills Development Scotland said “Designed by industry, for industry, apprenticeships not only help the economy but also create sustainable jobs across all parts of Scotland.

These opportunities have been taken by individuals from across society, including many young people traditionally with restricted opportunities to progress who have gone onto flourish in the workplace.

“These are real jobs backed by employers who contribute £10 for every £1 spent by government, and at the same time apprentices contribute by paying their taxes.

 “Creating a diverse and inclusive workforce through work-based learning is benefiting employers as apprentices enable them to adapt and sustain their business.”


SECTT and SJIB back Jamie Hepburn’s call to unlock potential in skills journey

The Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) and Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) have backed a call by Jamie Hepburn to unlock the potential of the nation’s young people and create a highly-skilled workforce to ensure a successful transition to net zero.

As Scottish Apprenticeship Week (SAW) begins, the training providers have both welcomed the Scottish Government Minister’s enthusiasm for more youngsters to become apprentices in the construction industry.

Mr Hepburn, the Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, said it was fitting that this year's SAW had the theme of ‘Unlocking Potential’.

He said: “The construction industry is upskilling its workforce to deliver a decarbonised built environment, making it a critical sector as we move towards our net zero ambitions. We therefore need enthusiastic and passionate young people to take opportunities, and consider construction as a career path.”

Mr Hepburn said the construction industry would have a vital role to play both during and after the transition to net zero, adding: “The Scottish Government encourages young people to consider learning a practical trade as an option if this is where their interest lies, as these trades will be of vital importance to both themselves and future generations of Scots.”

Anne Galbraith, Chief Executive of SECTT, which manages high-quality training on behalf of the SJIB, said: “Having come through the trials of the pandemic period in much better shape than could have been expected, it is appropriate to celebrate the contribution that apprentices make.

“Recent research shows that Scotland can expect to generate 100,000 green jobs as it transitions to a carbon-free environment, and the message has been sent and received that the country and the industry needs more apprentices and full-blown tradesmen and women.

“In the electrotechnical sector alone, numbers of young people embarking on their new careers have increased year on year since the height of the pandemic – there were 800 in 2021 and nearly 1,000 last year – and employers deserve substantial credit for supporting them so wholeheartedly.”

Fiona Harper, The Secretary of the SJIB and Director of Employment & Skills at SELECT, said: “Unlocking Potential is the perfect theme for this year’s SAW, since the skills, dedication and commitment of our young people will be crucial as the built environment and the wider world moves away from its dependence on fossil fuels.

“From heat pumps for our homes to electric vehicles and green energy sources, the world is rapidly changing, and it is our young people who will not only install the necessary infrastructure but will maintain it over the years and pass on their knowledge to succeeding generations.

“Mr Hepburn is to be applauded for recognising that it makes sense for apprentices to seek a solid and rewarding career in an industry which will be so important to all of us in the coming years.”

A host of events will run during SAW, which runs from 6-10 March. Backed by Skills Development Scotland, it highlights how both apprentices and employers benefit from schemes and how learning providers support young people’s achievements.

The SAW Unlocking Potential digital toolkit, full of useful information, tips and social media posts, can be downloaded here.



Test Instrument Solutions (TIS) Partner with SECTT Assessment Centre

With the ongoing promotion of the importance of safe isolation of supply. SECTT is happy to announce that we have received from Test instrument Solutions (TIS) their TIS 851 SIKIT Voltage Tester, Proving Unit & Safety Lockout Kit’s for the use in their Assessment Centres. David Henderson (Below left) SECTT’s Assessment Centre Manager was happy to receive the Kits from TIS Area Manager Barry McKenzie (Below right) during a visit to SECTT’s Assessment Centre in Edinburgh College. David noted the quality, design and robustness of the equipment and its ease of use would be welcomed by all candidates attending the Assessment centres.



T Clarke National Apprentice of The Year

SECTT would like to congratulate Dean Callan on winning TClarkes National Apprentice of the Year, the first time in the competitions ten year history that there has been a Scottish winner. TClarkes is rightly proud of Dean’s achievement, Dean is a credit to himself and the electrical industry.


Robert Aitken is Managing Director of SELECT Member business Power Distributing Contracting (PDC) Ltd, who are based in Larkhall, Lanarkshire. As a long-time supporter of apprentices, he talks us through the journey each trainee undertakes at the firm – and why he believes it’s essential for electrical businesses to continue backing the talent of tomorrow…

A solid start

“On the day apprentices start with us, they’re told we’ll endeavour to provide good training across a wide range of aspects related to the electrical trade and our ongoing workload.  We also tell them that the next few years will be an important part of their life and future, and they’re expected to show willing, listen, learn and do their best both on site and at college.                             


“On site, we normally work in pairs, i.e. an apprentice and a tradesman. Our workload includes new build housing, domestic rewires, tenanted house repairs, EICRs, factory and commercial property installation and maintenance, controlled entry systems, CCTV, car park barriers and automatic door installation and maintenance. Our apprentices are trained in all aspects of these duties and, in time, are expected to become conversant and competent in each subject’s installation and maintenance.

“Each apprentice works with different tradesmen. We have some that specialise in different aspects of our work, so each trainee gets chances on each core discipline at various times during their training.

“We also assess their progress at regular intervals via reports from both SECTT and the respective tradesmen, and if we feel the apprentice is lagging in one subject, we try to provide additional training on that aspect. SECTT will also flag up any areas that the apprentice may require more experience on.

Help when it’s needed

“If we feel apprentices are struggling with a particular aspect of their work, e.g. two-way switching or control circuits, they’re given time on our in-store ‘training board’, where a supervising tradesman will help them iron out whatever’s puzzling them. We find this has been very successful over the years.”

“In the latter years of an apprenticeship, we always try to give our trainees small jobs to do without constant supervision. One of our senior tradesmen will then check every aspect of the work and sit down and go through the job, picking up on points where improvement is required. If the job is done well, the apprentice is congratulated and made a bit of a fuss of – we find this boosts the ego and confidence massively.

The power of apprenticeships

“In our opinion, apprentices are a massive benefit and investment to every company and,  from our own experience, the training they’re given has also benefited us greatly.


“We now have five very able-bodied and competent tradesmen, all of whom served their apprenticeship with our company.                                                                                                        

“Over the years we’ve trained probably more than 50 apprentices, some of whom have gone on to become supervisors and managers in bigger companies, and others who now have their own contracting companies both here and in in one case, Australia.  We’re obviously very proud of all our current and ex-apprentices and the progress in life they’re making.  

“At the moment we have one Adult Trainee and five apprentices at PDC. The COVID-19 situation unfortunately means that most of our contracts have been scaled back or are on hold. But when the situation eases, there is no doubt that our workforce will increase, which in turn will means more apprenticeships will be available.”

Support and satisfaction

“Since we started the business in 2000, we’ve always encouraged apprentices and tried to offer them when the situation allowed. In fact, our very first apprentice is still with us – he left after his time was out and eventually came back after gaining a variety of experience and has been with us now for seven years.

“Since we became a Member of SELECT in 2003, we’ve worked closely with SECTT and there is no doubt that the training programme they manage on behalf of the SJIB is excellent. Advice from SECTT on apprentice and training matters are highly regarded within our company, and we really couldn’t provide suitable apprentice training without them. On a personal level, I’ve recommended SECTT to other established and some newly-formed companies within our industry.”


The apprentice’s verdict

Nathan Crighton passed his FICA in July 2020 and now works as a qualified electrician with PDC. Here’s his verdict on his apprenticeship with the firm:

“I’d always wanted a trade and joined the pre-apprenticeship course at New College Lanarkshire, Motherwell campus. I did my work experience with PDC and after four weeks on site they offered me a job and an apprenticeship.

“I found the apprenticeship good. The 1st Stage blocks supported my learning on site and I enjoyed the science as I’d done physics at school, which made it easier to understand. The lecturers were also good at showing us the practical side, so I got support with a bit of everything – domestic, industrial and commercial. 

“I now do a lot of testing, lighting and rewiring – a good range of work. During the pandemic I was furloughed, but not for long, and recently I’ve been working outside unless it’s essential and we are permitted to enter premises.

“I want to stay on the tools as I really enjoy my job and will definitely sit my ACA in the future. I would recommend becoming an apprentice electrician as it offers you a good trade, plus I work for a good company who treat all apprentices well and look after their staff.

“I’ve enjoyed everything so far and wouldn’t change a thing. I liked my college, the portfolio work and particularly working on site – plus my SECTT training officer was always there and was really knowledgeable and supportive when I did need help.”


The view from the top

Anne Galbraith is Chief Executive of SECTT. Here, she congratulates Robert, Nathan and PDC on their continued business success and applauds their joint approach to the job.

“It is testament to a company that the apprentices who trained with them either stay with the company or go onto to have success of their own.  As Robert noted, it is sometimes good for a newly-qualified electrician to leave the company and gain wider experience and them bring that back to the company that trained them. I applaud employers like PDC who  continually commit to training and treat their staff well – it is evident that they reap the rewards that this brings.”


SELECT Member David reveals the value of apprentices

After more than 30 years running David White Electrical (DRW Ltd), David White has learnt the huge value that apprentices can bring to a business.

They’ve helped his firm grow and develop, brought enthusiasm and fresh talent, and allowed David’s son to follow in his footsteps by completing his own apprenticeship.

As the industry looks ahead to the post-COVID-19 recovery and beyond, it’s never been more important to ensure there’s a new generation of skilled and qualified electricians.

“The industry needs good apprentices and companies need them to continue to grow and deliver high quality work” said David. “There’s 15 of us in my business and we’re like one big working family – apprentices are an integral part of the business in the past and now looking to the future.

“We’ve always had apprentices, I like to see them grow in confidence and experience and become confident high-quality electricians. At the moment we have two who go back to college in March and another due to start in September. I’ve also been in touch with the local college about accessing another couple for the future.”

David set up his business in Gretna in 1989 and has always had apprentices in the firm. He believes more young people should be introduced to apprenticeships in school to help them understand the long-term life opportunities they achieve in a work-based environment.

He said: “Universities get a lot of publicity but apprenticeships are just as important. Employers want to know that the people they employ can communicate, as well as understand what they are doing, and completing a vocational qualification allows you to see them first hand. Our apprentices learn so much more by working and doing.

“Apprenticeships can teach you so much more than just a trade. You have to learn how to communicate well with so many different types of people and I’ve seen how my apprentices mature throughout their apprenticeship becoming confident, friendly, articulate, professional electricians. They soon become a valuable part of the team they work in.

“I always ensure there is a mentor attached to support and teach each apprentice. Mentors are qualified and more experienced and someone who they can ask for advice. My mentors keep them on track and focused on the job at hand to ensure they do it correctly and show them a solid strong work ethic.”

It’s not only the apprentices who get the benefit of this support, guidance and in the end qualification and trade, but also the companies where they work. David’s own business has been able to expand over the years because of his commitment to taking on trainees.

And he’s proud of the successful careers his former apprentices have forged, either by staying with DRW or setting up on their own, and the fact that they are still friends.

“Obviously there’s a cost to the business but it’s worth it because of the additional help the apprentices bring,” said David. “The long-term benefits of developing home grown talent is important to continuity and ongoing success. They allow the business stay competitive and personally I also like seeing people do well so it’s great to see the apprentices succeed.

“One of my previous apprentices is in Birmingham, doing exceptionally well with his own business, another is in Inverness working on windfarm contracts. Another two have set up in our local area and are also very successful. I don’t see them as a threat as we all offer different services and I’ve got a lot respect for them all. I fully support my whole team, past and present. We speak all the time and we’ll help each other out whenever we need to.”

David has seen first-hand the opportunities that an apprenticeship can open up. Before setting up his own business, he spent a year working in Australia using the skills he’d gained during his apprenticeship.

He said: “Once you’ve got your trade it’s set in stone and you’ll always find work if you want it. I travelled to Australia and because I had a trade it meant I could network straight away which was important. A trade gives you so many opportunities in life to go wherever you want.”


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges for all businesses, including David’s. At the start of the first lockdown he was kept busy with emergency callouts and also worked for a company producing PPE for the UK and Scottish Governments, installing machinery at sites on both sides of the border.

The firm’s workload has remained high and like all businesses, it’s had to change how it operates to follow the latest health and safety guidelines. David made sure the apprentices’ views were taken on board when the new processes were developed.

He said: “Through and coming out of lockdown, we were very careful about how we travelled, so we reviewed our business vehicles policy, and also how we accessed the various sites while ensuring that the appropriate PPE was in place.

“The team understood their own responsibilities and that included our apprentices, who they took it all in their stride. The team worked in bubbles and the same apprentice would always be with the same electrical engineer.”

Looking to the future, David plans to keep investing in apprenticeships and encourages other firms to do the same.

He said: “SECTT will provide you with support and help with funding for things like paperwork and books – it’s really helpful. They work hard to keep the industry going and the colleges are a great help and support as well.

“I’d advise anyone who is thinking about taking an apprentice to go for it. It’s a really good way to keep your business competitive and it’s great to watch them grow and succeed.”


Macauley Hawthorne is a 20-year-old first year apprentice who currently splits his time between working for DRW and attending Dumfries College

“I’m half way through the first year of my apprenticeship and I’m really enjoying it so far – there’s plenty of work to do. Lockdown meant I only got four weeks of college last year so I can’t wait to get back there and get going again.

“I spent a year working with the business first before I started my apprenticeship, which really helped prepare me and let me see what the job was like. It made it much more enjoyable. I’d been at college doing an electrical course before but coming on to the job was a really different experience. My favourite part of the job is going to new builds, I really love working on them. You’re always doing something different as well.

“I couldn’t ask for a better boss than David, he’s brilliant with all of us. As it’s a smaller company it’s much more personal – you’re not just a number and you feel like you’re really learning. The communication is great and you’re always just a phone call away from someone. My SECTT training officer has been brilliant too, he’s really easy to communicate with.

“Looking at the future, I want to finish my apprenticeship and get qualified and one day I’d love to have my own business. I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone else who’s considering one. I thought it would be good but it’s been so much better than I expected. It’s so useful to have a trade behind you, especially at the moment – it’s something you’ll always have to fall back on.”




Andrew Jancey started with DRW in 2006 when he was 17 and stayed with them after finishing his apprenticeship in 2010.

“I thought about going to university but I decided to go for an apprenticeship instead. I’d done some work experience so I knew a little of what to expect. I loved the fact that I was earning money while I was learning a trade. You gain confidence and learn so much as you go along, and not just the electrical side of it. You don’t think about it at the time, but you learn how to interact with customers and get a whole new skillset that you probably wouldn’t get at university.

“I worked with a good set of tradesmen with a range of background when I was an apprentice which helped me get a wide variety of skills. It’s a challenge to put what you’ve learned at college into practice but you’re surrounded by people who can help you and teach you on site.

“When I qualified as an electrician there was plenty of work here so David offered me the chance to stay on. I like the different work we do here, we do a lot of varied jobs. Now I’m the person working with an apprentice and you see it from the other side. When you’re teaching someone else, you remember what it was like to be in their situation and you know what they’re going through because of your own experience.

“The industry is changing all the time and the technology you’re using is constantly improving. You get a skillset you can travel anywhere with and there’s a lot of space for progression. Choosing an apprenticeship opens up so many doors.”


Electrical Industries Charity

Are you aware of our Industry Charity and their Employee and Family Support Programme, which SECTT would like to bring to your attention?

The information here describes the free charitable service for companies within our Industry.

We want to raise awareness to employees further down the ladder who may not be aware that there is a charity just for them and is here to help them and their families who face everyday life challenges.

If you sign up to this they will give a presentation to your employees plus brochures, workplace posters and wallet cards with all relevant information on.

Please do get in touch with the Electrical Industries Charity who will come and see you to discuss the benefits to you and your employees.

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