As a youngster, I would have Sunday dinner with my grandparents, Gran was a great cook – amazing roasties! Then, Grandad and I would go down to the garage, which was his workshop. There, he would teach me how to make basic circuit boards. The flashing lights and technical applications became second nature to me, even from this young age.
My own professional career began with a 4-year apprenticeship with Building & Mechanical Services.
For those considering a career as an Electrician, who have not had the inspiration and family guidance as I have, the best way to learn is through an apprenticeship. Apprentices work – and earn – full-time for an electrical contractor, plus, take classroom training one day a week.
Three of the apprentices currently enjoying the start of their careers at JGF are Drew, Harry and Harvey. They are in their 3rd, 2nd and 1st years respectively, working 4 days, and in college 1 day a week.
The Knowledge Gap.
We refer to it as ‘The Knowledge Gap’ because what’s being taught at college seems out of date with the technical and social skills needed ‘on the job’.
It’s something we are trying to work on, feeling the need to work more closely with the college to bring 80’s and 90’s dated syllabuses closer to 21st Century goals. Employers (JGF) are genuinely passionate about creating and supporting Apprentice schemes, partly as payback for their own time served as apprentices, and partly to invest in tomorrow’s skilled workers today.
We have designed 2x Apprentice Training Bays, which the guys are building from scratch themselves. They’re designed to focus new skills such as Smart Home Technology, Energy Efficiency, Health & Safety, as well as the core technical requirements of Electrical Contracting.
We hope that college time will help develop some of these skills as well as some of the basics, such as Maths and Algebra.
Closing ‘the Gap’
Over the last couple of years and for the foreseeable future, their Tutors have been unable to visit the guys on site, or spend time with their Mentors to see what ‘on the job’ really means today.
There’s a lot to learn and develop through an apprenticeship. Some of the ‘hidden skills’ are different to what you might expect, for instance:
- have good eyesight and can see colours clearly
- have reasonable maths and algebra skills
- can grasp, manipulate and assemble small objects
- don’t mind heights and can work on a ladder or aerial lift
- are comfortable enough in tight places such as attics or crawl spaces (‘in cupboards’ as Lee says he always is!)
- can lift and move heavy objects, safely
- have a mechanical aptitude
- can work both independently and as part of a team
- can learn to follow systems and procedures
- have the social skills to interact with others on contract work
As well as getting involved across a broad range of technical projects, our apprentices develop not just their electrical skills, but core values such as team working, service ethic and analytical thinking.
3 years down the road, Drew knows and shares the enormous values gained through his apprenticeship with JGF. Harry is already a skilled asset and eager to learn more and more. And as for Harvey – well, early days still my friend, but with the encouragement of your peers, mentors and your Father (when out of those cupboards), you will have a great career in this amazing world of Electrical Contracting.