Chris Gibson was working in a factory when he decided to look in to what jobs would provide him with better long-term career opportunities. After visiting his local careers office, he found out about The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) Apprenticeships which gave Chris the chance to train for a career, get real hands-on experience and be paid at the same time. Chris made his decision and applied for the Electro-technical Installation programme.
The ECITB apprenticeship experience
Chris started his apprenticeship at TTE in Middlesborough, where he spent 18 months learning about the health and safety elements of working onsite and the fundamental skills of the electro-technical installer. “I loved the practical skills training we did,” says Chris. “During my 18 months at college we learned how to recognise common electrical components and cables, how to wire and install equipment, how to use testing instruments and how to rectify faults.”
After completing his off-the-job training at TTE, Chris secured a place for his onsite training with Watson Norrie. Chris comments: “Watson Norrie unfortunately went into administration soon after I started, but the ECITB were brilliant. They organised a new onsite placement at Southern Electric within 6 months, and while they were doing that for me, I was able to complete the CompEx course which will help me get work offshore, something I really want to do in the future. It’s the only nationally recognised qualification in explosive atmosphere installation and inspection and will really give me a head start when moving into this field.
Within 6 months of starting onsite training at Southern Electric, Chris was offered a permanent post – complete with full pay. “I was really pleased to be offered the job,” comments Chris, “because it meant I could earn good money even before I’d finished my apprenticeship. The work I do for them is similar to what I started doing at Watson Norrie, so I know my skills are very transferable. On any given day I could be installing and commissioning electrical systems like heating or air conditioning units, or finding and correcting electrical faults. I know in the future I could use my skills in all sorts of environments, like petro-chemical plants or oil refineries. I really enjoy working in places other people normally never get to see, and with my new skills and qualifications I could achieve my ambition to work offshore, in fact I now have opportunities to work anywhere in the world!”
Small & medium enterprises apprenticeship incentives
In light of the need to train people now, and the lack of in-scope companies with the capacity to employ apprentices, the ECITB is supporting an initiative launched by the National Apprenticeship Service to encourage small & medium enterprises (SMEs) to take on apprentices in England.
The scheme, Apprenticeship Grants for Employers (AGE), has been backed by the Government and will offer grants of £1,500 to up to 40,000 SMEs prepared to take on their first apprentice.
For more information on this initiative please visit www.ecitb.org.uk/Programmes/Apprenticeships/ or telephone Don Atkinson, North East Regional Account Manager for ECITB on 07971438720.