Categories Apprenticeships

JGF Apprentice Days

In an earlier blog about Electrical Apprenticeships, we spoke of ‘The Knowledge Gap’. That is the often gaping hole between what’s covered in college and what is conducted in practice. If not the theory, then the practical application of methodology now, as opposed to the theory when the syllabus was written way back when.

Apprentice Values

We take Apprenticeships seriously as those who follow our story will know.

As we say on the Home Page – “As Investors in People, we recognise that our ‘people’ are our ‘assets’. Quality comes through training and opportunities through our Apprenticeships. On-the-job learning and upskilling both in the unit and on site, develop not just their electrical skills, but core values such as team working, service ethic and analytical thinking”.

A recent Leadership Team Meeting set out our medium and longer term Apprenticeship Policy. Firstly, to increase the number of both technical and commercial apprentice positions in line with targeted growth benchmarks. And secondly, to implement monthly Apprentice Days.

Apprentice Days

These are already successful days for our Technical Apprentices under the guidance of Richard Banks. The guys stand down from their normal busy days to gather at the unit for a schedule of tasks and challenges set for the day.

In his own words Rich said: “The idea is to give the apprentices some one-to-one, hands-on tutoring, be it techy stuff or manual grafting.”

One of the Apprentice Days’ challenges was to install some sockets in the stores area above a bench, along with a wall mounted laptop bracket. It was a practical and necessary task to assist stock taking.

As with any job, planning is key – ’fail to plan, plan to fail’. So, Rich initiated a discussion to see what they felt about the job and how to approach it. Even a small job has so many things that can go wrong so take nothing for granted and set about planning each with the same detail and urgency.

Like this:

  • What is required? (client led info)
  • What materials are required?
  • What tooling is required?
  • How will we conduct the installation?

Hands On

(Rich again) We decided to install a section of 3 compartment dado trunking above the existing bench, which we would install 3 x double sockets. Now this may not seem much of a job, but trust me, if you haven’t worked with 3 compartment trunking, it can be interesting to say the least.

mastering a tape measure must have changed over the years!

A common theme was developing as much time was taken just measuring and cutting. This still seems to be alien to the lads – mastering a tape measure must have changed over the years!

Lunch, as anywhere, is an important part of the day. Again, small things are so important and should not be taken for granted. Rich tasks the guys to agree what’s required, prepare the order, and place it for delivery at 1.00. ‘Teamwork for the tum’.

Dan, Harry, Drew, Harvey (Lunch!)

The Q&As over lunch are a crucial part of the day. The general banter ‘on the job’ is turned to more focused discussion about college, home life, sport (teamwork) and wellbeing.

Mental Health & Wellbeing in the workplace are issues we take seriously, so encouraging our youngsters to get used to talking and listening to others is a covert part of a bigger picture.

Back to Work

(Back to you Rich) It was good practice to have the bench mitre saw set up, highlighting the importance of correct PPE.

We also spent some good time on cable selection, showing how we select cable size, installation methods and so on – a great introduction to the tables in our bible BS 7671.

By the end of the day, we had a laptop bracket & trunking on the wall, sockets installed and working What’s more, all fingers intact having let them loose on the 110V mitre saw after further H&S considerations were discussed and implemented as always.

Confidence

Each Apprentice Day builds further confidence, both for their relationship with each other and their general interaction with management. Sure, we all work together on the shop floor – out on the job, but when you move the scenario to a more formal situation, we all react, learn and interact differently.

This is a great exercise, and continues to be for all involved.

Categories Apprenticeships

Electrical Apprenticeships – ‘The Knowledge Gap’

My own career as an Electrical Engineer was set at an early age, as the ‘About Us’ page and the recent ‘Every Business Tells a Story’ blog reveals.

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

Getting Involved

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.