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Power Engineering Apprenticeship Case Study

Robbie McCreath, Power Engineering Apprentice - 2013

My name is Robbie and I am one of twelve from the first group of Power Engineering Apprentices recruited by ScottishPower in September 2013.

I left school in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland back in 2007 with a number of Highers including Physics, English, Maths & Craft & Design. I then studied at Glasgow Caledonian University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Risk Management. Unfortunately, like many graduates do nowadays I struggled to find employment related to the subject I studied and ended up moving back home gaining employment in a variety of short term positions including bar work, factory work, welding and lastly green keeping at my local golf course. I also regularly helped out on the family beef & sheep farm. I suppose I could be seen as a bit of a jack of all trades.

I spotted the apprenticeship opportunity on ScottishPower’s website and applied as I was keen to work somewhere that also provided extensive training and development opportunities. In all honesty I had never considered a career in engineering prior to applying for this post, however the more I looked into the role and the electricity industry as a whole the more it appealed to me. I spoke to a number of former and current employees and got the impression that this could be a job for life and that prospect was extremely attractive to me. The major investment planned over the coming years in the electricity network and the huge variety of projects the company is involved in, is also something that I wanted to be part of.

Initially I spent the first 9 months my apprenticeship at the training centre in Cumbernauld. The training varied between practical & theory with ScottishPower working in partnership with Forth Valley College to teach us the different elements. The initial practical training consisted of learning about the key trades within the Energy Networks business, overhead lines, cable jointing and fitting. We also train to gain authorisations in order to be able to go out and work on the network and gain a wider knowledge of the operational side of the business. The college work involved a number of subjects ranging from maths to project management, health and safety, to hydraulics and pneumatics. These subjects have tied in well with the practical side and will benefit me greatly when I’m out gaining valuable work experience in order to complete my apprenticeship over the three year period. I really enjoyed the mixture of practical and theory during my time at the training centre although I must admit that I did prefer it when I got a chance to pull the overalls on and carry out practical exercises!

Since moving out to my work depot in Dumfries I have spent most of my time learning from the experienced tradesmen. Each of these placements has allowed me to gain an understanding of what they do on a day to day basis in order to maintain and improve the network. Being able to draw on their experience has been extremely useful in allowing me to build on the knowledge and skills gained at the training centre.

The next stage of my training is to spend time with engineers who focus on the planning of projects and all the elements that need to be considered, for both low voltage and high voltage networks. This will give me valuable knowledge to assist me with completing my Diploma in Power Engineering as part of the apprenticeship.

I feel lucky to be given this opportunity by ScottishPower and I would highly recommend an apprenticeship route to anybody who wants to earn & learn at the same time.

For anyone thinking of applying in the future my advice would be to do as much research into the company and industry you are interested in, as you can. Recruitment processes can be quite lengthy and involve several stages, so just be patient and be yourself, you can only do your best!

Watch the video below to hear more from ScottishPower Apprentices:

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