Monday brought the start of Skills Development Scotland’s Scottish Apprenticeship week for 2016 and today the spotlight falls on 22-year-old Kevin Macrae.
Mr Macrae, a former pupil of Charleston Academy in Inverness, is currently in his the third year of a plumbing apprenticeship with Korrie Mechanical and Plumbing, a firm providing a wide range of services across the Highlands.
Speaking exclusively to Infro, he was keen to pinpoint the benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship while furthering his knowledge at college, where he feels the skills and expertise gained prepare him for the practical environment in which he feels most comfortable.
He said: “The time I spend at college and the time I spend working with people hands on, seem to complement each other but for me personally, I learn more from experiencing things day-to-day, on the job.”
The Inverness youngster has been working recently on a series of domestic heating tasks. This has involved visiting properties to upgrade heating systems in just one day and he credits the experience of his time-served colleagues as pivotal in his own development.
“It’s a fair rush but when you’ve got four good guys, it makes the day a lot easier.
“Subtle differences, which come with experience, can make such a big difference.
“Good communication is vital, this ensures we get it right first time and time isn’t wasted.”
With focus on Scottish apprentices, Mr Macrae advised potential recruits that they must look to follow in the footsteps of him and his colleagues if they are to be successful in their chosen field.
He added: “Make sure you’ve got the right attitude and a work ethic. Otherwise you’re not going to get anywhere.
“I have never looked back since I came to Korrie but you have to be prepared to work hard.”
Korrie Managing Director, Donnie Fraser, is also singled out for praise by Mr Macrae as his sentiments on working hard are backed up by his boss.
“Donnie is a very fair boss, he said to me when he took me on, ‘you be fair to me and I’ll be fair to you – it’s as simple as that’”.
Mr Macrae was first presented with a chance to impress at Korrie after a visit to the job centre led to an offer of a work experience placement and he showed enough promise to land a more permanent position.
The company have built up a positive relationship with agents such as career advisors and job centres across the region in a bid to find hidden talents and Donnie Fraser was also on hand to speak to us.
“It’s a thing we do in order to find out whether they’re motivated or not, it’s a huge opportunity and we get to find out about them and vice-versa. If we waste that chance on somebody that’s not going to take the chance, then that’s no good for anyone.”
Mr Fraser was also very keen to point out that, for the ones that choose to follow a career as an apprentice, there is an incentive that would help to persuade individuals that may be seeking an academic career.
He said: “The difference is you actually get paid when you’re getting trained and that’s a big thing for young people. That’s the message that I have to try and get across, as I have to do all I can to try and keep people here [in the Highlands] and I make no apologies for that.”