Andrew Armstrong is a wind turbine technician in the Scottish Borders with EDF Renewables. He began his career with us as a Wind Turbine Technician Apprentice and qualified last year. We caught up with him to understand how an apprentice scheme in a business that is committed to his development, launched his career in renewables.
Q. What attracted you to our apprenticeship scheme?
A. I left school at 16 with less than adequate grades and started working in an engineering workshop. My low grades always held me back from applying for an apprenticeship. I worked in a number of hands-on engineering roles, but I struggled to progress due to my lack of education. In turn, this knocked my confidence.
Q. What were you doing before starting the apprenticeship with EDF Renewables?
A. At 18, I had a bit of a false start in an apprenticeship. I’d completed two years of the apprenticeship before, unfortunately, we were all laid off. I then had various other jobs before plucking up the courage at 23 to pay for my own education at night college. I wanted to improve my grades and opportunities.
I was surprised when I achieved a Grade A in my exams! It really encouraged me to keep moving forward. I really enjoyed the experience and proved to myself that with the right mindset, I could accomplish the goals I set myself. It was after achieving my good results that I applied for an apprenticeship with EDF Renewables.
"I feel really privileged to have had an opportunity to get into the renewable sector"
Q. Why did you choose EDF Renewables?
A. I had experience in gas turbines, plant machinery and other maintenance roles, which fuelled my interest in the energy sector. Then I noticed wind turbines popping up where I lived – near Burnhead – which brought me to EDF Renewables. I applied through the local college for the apprenticeship scheme and here I am today!
Q. What was the apprenticeship like?
A. It’s a three-year course that involves classroom-based and job-based learning. In the first year, I spent five days a week in college, getting involved in practical workshops and classroom learning. I’d already had quite a lot of practical experience through my jobs, so I personally learnt more from the classroom training. But for someone who doesn’t have much experience using tools, job-based learning is a very good way to get them exposure.
Year 2s and 3 consisted mostly of on-site learning. But we also had a day release to attend college and keep on top of the classroom learning. Both aspects of the apprenticeship are important.
"Don’t give up. And if it doesn’t work out first time, set goals and give it another go!"
Q. What have been the highlights of your time as an apprentice?
A. Getting an A in my HNC and proving to myself that I have the capability to succeed in an academic environment. Maths was never my strong point and it’s turned out to be the hidden talent I never knew I had! I also feel really privileged to have had an opportunity to get into the renewable sector.
Q. What would you say to any aspiring apprentices?
A. Be persistent and keep trying. A massive learning for me is, if you are unsure, just ask – you aren’t going to get into trouble! This is particularly important given the safety critical aspect of our work.
Q. What’s next on your career path?
A. I would like to grow my career with EDF Renewables. I’m also very keen to keep going with my learning and professional development up to HND level.
Q. Any final words of advice?
A. Don’t give up. And if it doesn’t work out first time, set goals and give it another go! After my first apprenticeship didn’t work out, I really thought that was it. But I just needed to be given another chance. And to find the right apprenticeship in a company that would help me develop my skills.