The new episode of Sparks’ Remarks has featured no-holds barred insights from Mike Stark of leading facilities management firm, Atalian Servest AMK, who has more than 39 years of business experience and has been supporting electrical apprentices for the last eight years.
He gives his forthright views on what it takes to train and develop apprentice electricians in the latest podcast from the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and leading trade association SELECT.
In the podcast, entitled ‘five-way tag teams, the proud father and a kick up the bahookie’, he tells listeners about the qualities required to become a competent and qualified electrician – and the tactics needed to inspire and motivate learners to reach their full potential.
Mike says, “I always say it’s a five-way tag team – company, college, SECTT, training officer and apprentice. If someone doesn’t pull their weight or commit then it won’t work as it’s a struggle for the other four.
“For example, we had a student struggle to pass the first stage of their apprenticeship but we supported him and he passed it, absolutely flew through stage two and is now doing well in stage three, so the support in his early stages has really helped him and made a difference.
“Sometimes, just like the ‘proud father’ some of the apprentices say they see me as, they need an arm around them as well as a hug – and we’re quick enough to give them a kick up the backside when needed too!
“I can think of one apprentice who had a really hard couple of years personally and is now back on his chosen path and it’s great to see the smile back on his face. For me, it’s the most satisfying thing to see apprentices who have struggled at one point but who then make progress and pass.”
Mike continues, “It’s been gratifying to see how support for apprenticeships has improved across the board in recent years. Communications too have become better, with a portal available from day one and a direct line of comms to me.
“Students are here to learn and realise they have homework and deadlines for a reason. Some have struggled but we’re working hard on improving this. Those students who have been on a pre-apprenticeship course turn up better able to take advantage of the training experience.
“Being a qualified electrician is to be a member of a safety-critical profession. Of the three key utilities – gas, water and electricity – it is electricity which is the hardest to detect and the safety risk element is a huge part of the course.
“We’re not looking for superstars, we’re looking for apprentices who are dedicated and committed to the cause of becoming electricians. We’ve had apprentices win awards at national level which is great but all of them who pass the Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA) are a success in our eyes.”
Like the previous two episodes, the new podcast is aimed at existing and would-be apprentices and their employers, and is hosted by journalist Kim McAllister and Barrie McKay, Training and Development Manager at SECTT.
Episode can be found here.