Case studies

Nathan Sanders, Managing Director SSE Utility Solutions and associated businesses.

Nathan Sanders, is now Managing Director of SSE Utility Solutions and associated businesses SSE Water Ltd, SSE Heat Ltd, SSE Pipelines Ltd and SSE National Networks. Nathan began his career with SSE as a Comprehensive Electrical Apprentice showing that completion of your Apprenticeship isn’t where your career progression will stop.

Nathan joined SSE in 1988, completing his apprenticeship with Southern Electricity Board, covering all aspects of electrical installation works. He went on to have several roles, some of which included SEC Technical Trainee, Contracting Engineer, Senior Contracts Manager and then in 2010 Managing Director of SSE Utility Solutions and associated businesses.

Below are the qualifications he has gained during his time working with SSE:

  • MSc. “Positive Leadership Practice”
  • NVQ Management Studies
  • Mecuri Sales Management
  • IOSH Safety Certificate
  • HNC & ONC Electrical Engineering
  • C&G Electrical Installation & Maintenance

Danielle Watson, Apprentice, Electrical Contracting

Prior to applying for the apprenticeship I had been studying a full time course at Inverness College which was a pre-apprenticeship electrical/engineering course. This gave me a basic understanding of the practical side of the trade. I did this for 2 years as I had struggled to get any company's to take me on. It was the college that mentioned to the whole class about SSE taking on apprenticeships and urged us to apply.

I have always been interested in doing a trade, I didn't know when I left school what I was going to do so I travelled and worked abroad until I was sure of which trade I wanted to apply for.

I enjoyed college, getting to meet new people from Aberdeen, Perth, Dundee and Inverness. We were all sent to Perth College for the theory side of the programme. As we were all attending the same college this gave us a chance to share knowledge about the different business areas we were working in and helped us understand how other areas in SSE work.

My first job on programme was up in Ullapool doing Street lighting, I was freezing cold and getting eaten alive by midges and I thought to myself 'what have I done?' Thankfully from then on in I have really enjoyed all of the jobs I have been involved in. I was working at Raigmore hospital on and off for 2 years and between working at the hospital I have worked in nursing homes, new business units and an MOD Base going out on a boat to test a cabin in the middle of a Loch! At the end of my second year I was put on to the wind farms and I stayed away from home up in Thurso for about 6 months. Since then I have been based at home whilst working at the Dumnaglass windfarm site. 

I think the biggest challenge I have experienced was the theory side of college as I'm more of a practical person but my advice if you are like me is complete your college entries in plenty of time otherwise they just pile up and you have a mountain of work to do. Luckily I was a bit older and wiser by the time I started the programme so I kept up with it all.

I am still currently working in the renewable side in the windfarm doing control room work and I now also have my climbing certificate for climbing the towers. I enjoy the renewable side of the company so hopefully I will have gained a lot more experience and I plan to become an approved electrician. Possibly studying electrical engineering.

John Stewart, Lines Person/Jointer Apprenticeship, Networks

I applied for the Lines Person/Jointer Apprenticeship 3 years ago as I was looking for a change in career and better opportunities. Before applying for this role I had been doing a variety of different jobs including security guard and shop manager, however I never found these enjoyable or fulfilling and was desperate for a change.  I had searched many different companies on the internet and none of these really interested me. After reading the job profiles and information on SSE’s website I decided that was the job that I wanted to do. 

 During the apprentice programme I have visited a variety of different places, I have worked in all weathers, been up a mountain in the snow one day and in a block of flats the next. I have helped inspect power lines from a helicopter after storms and met a variety of different people. I would certainly recommend this programme if you are looking for a challenge, wanting to learn new skills and want to have an exciting career.

Jonathan McMillan, Heating & Ventilation Apprentice, Contracting

Whilst I was in high school completing my Highers I applied for both college and apprenticeship positions in mechanical engineering as this had always been of interest to me.  I knew at this point when I was in my 6th year at school that I wanted a career related to the job I am in now.

Whilst on the Apprenticeship Programme I enjoyed working with a variety of people on site. Each site is different so there’s always something new to learn which keeps you engaged and interested. My first site was in Greenock, it was an office block which required a small plant room, heating and hot and cold water. Since it was my first site I was inexperienced, however I quickly learned and was trusted with more responsible tasks. Last year I was involved in a student accommodation building which required hot and cold water and ventilation services. As I was more experienced I was trusted to do my own tasks with little assistance. 

What I found most challenging is that if I did happen to slip up or make a mistake I was too hard on myself.  Over the years with more experience I’ve come to realise that everyone makes mistakes and the important thing at that point is to just focus on fixing the problem. 

For anyone hoping to secure an apprenticeship I would tell them to be confident in yourself. There are so many people around you to help you so if you don’t know something just ask as there’s always someone who knows the answer.

Recently I have been furthering my education by attending night school to train in mechanical engineering. I have been gaining more experience both on the tools and in management so in 5-10 years I hope to be in a management role and running a site.

Additionally I would like to say that if you are eager to learn and not scared to challenge yourself and push your limits then a career within SSE is for you.

Lewis Fiore, Electrical Apprentice, Contracting

I applied to become an apprentice electrician. I had been applying for apprenticeships for sometime while I was at college but did not have any luck. When I applied for the role with SSE I was working as a temporary college technician in the electrical department. In this role I would aid the tutor with the preparation of classes and built test rigs to aid the students with aspects of their work.

I knew what career path I wanted to take before applying for the role because I had done various bits of work around the house with my dad and found that I enjoyed doing electrics the most. I had also had a few jobs that were electrical based. These jobs I found more interesting than other previous jobs that I had done.

Once I started with SSE I enjoyed meeting and getting to know new people at the induction week that wanted the same thing as me by the end of the programme. College was good too as we were all SSE employees  on the course so you could still have a laugh but at the same time learn what you needed to know as everyone wanted to be there and get on.

While I was on the apprenticeship program I was in involved in various projects ranging from lighting upgrades, to the installation of new three phase supplies to print presses. One job I was involved in while on apprenticeship was the installation of a 10 mega watt solar farm. While on this job SSE was responsible for installing the AC supplies to all the solar arrays and all the DC strings that were terminated into the solar panels and went back to the inverters at the end of each row. This was really interesting to be involved in.

At first I did find the NVQ difficult to grasp as there was a large amount of evidence required and various questions that needed to be answered but it got easier to understand and complete after the first write up. I would tell anyone looking to do an SSE Apprenticeship if you find you are struggling or not understanding any parts of the programme or work do not be afraid to ask for help.

Since completing the programme I have been replacing old 2D fitting for LED lighting panels in an assisted living complex. In 5-10 year’s time I would like to have completed my test and inspection qualification and either moved up into a project engineers role or have my own company.

Morna Grant, PLUMBING APPRENTICE, CONTRACTING

Modern Apprentice Morna Grant enjoys problem solving, using tools and working outside as part of her job as a plumber with energy company SSE.

The 23-year-old left Balfron High School at 16 with no clear idea of what she wanted to do.

“I had thought about joining the police, but then I started working right away. I worked in factories and had office jobs before I went to college where I did a vehicle maintenance course,” she explained.

Morna really enjoyed the practical, hands on aspect of her time there. When she saw an advertisement for Modern Apprenticeships with SSE, she decided to apply.

Callander-based Morna has enjoyed the first two years of her four-year training. She feels the on-site experience helps her to learn the theory and progress in her trade.

“Another part of the job that I enjoy is the variety, as I can be on a job for a day or working on a project for two or three months and doing different types of things. You are always learning which is good,” explained Morna.

Her supervisor, Mechanical Project Engineer David Harris, said: “Morna is keen,  shows a great interest in her work, is eager to learn and is not afraid of hard work. She handles herself well in a primarily male dominant industry.”