National Apprenticeship Week: From the Royal Marines to Power

To celebrate apprenticeship week Scottish and Southern Electricity Network (SSEN) is highlighting some of the remarkable stories of its apprentices and what led them to applying to SSEN.

Jonathan Switzer had served for seven years as a Heavy Weapons Specialist in the Royal Marines before applying to the SSEN trainee linesman programme. After working in such a mentally and physically demanding environment, upon returning to civilian life Jonathan sought a role that would both challenge him and provide the opportunity to develop a new skillset. 

The SSEN trainee programme was recommended to Jonathan by a friend who had previously been through the scheme. 

Jonathan explains: “I enjoyed the physical aspect of serving in the Royal Marines, so when looking for my next role I was keen to explore ways I could continue to practically apply learnt skills; something the SSEN trainee programme provides.”

The linesman apprenticeship programme lasts three years and mixes days in college, with onsite training. The prospect of a varied and interesting career, with a mix of practical skills and mental challenges led to Jonathan applying. 

He continued: “I learnt a great deal in my first three years at SSEN and for me it has been a fantastic entry into an exciting and challenging industry to work in. The programme allowed me to both build a knowledge of the energy sector, and take on more responsibility for professional development."

The programme also appealed to Jonathan as it provided an opportunity to earn a salary while applying new skills in an unfamiliar work environment.  Following his successful completion of the linesman apprenticeship programme, Jonathan commenced the trainee engineer programme in September 2018, and is undertaking his HMT engineering course. 

Jonathan added: “SSEN is a great place to work as there are opportunities for development and growth, particularly if you are self-motivated and willing to put the work in."

A normal day for Jonathan will be working in the field, on maintaining and supporting a resilient network in SSEN’s southern licence area, planning jobs and practically working towards delivering a flexible network that meets current and future customer expectations. 

When asked about transferrable skills from his Royal Marine days, Jonathan highlights that it might be expected that as a Heavy Weapons specialist, these might be limited. However, in the Royal Marines he developed his communication, teamwork, discipline and organisational skills that meant he could quickly thrive at SSEN. 

“In my role at SSEN I need to be able to work quickly and diligently both as an individual and as part of a team. Being able to identify the right people to talk to, to be able to communicate clearly and coherently, and acting in a manner appropriate to the situation under which I am operating, I believe are skills that I have transferred from my years serving as a Royal Marine.”

Asked if he would recommend the SSEN trainee programme Jonathan responded “The career opportunities are huge if you are self-motivated and prepared to go out there and seek it. Overcoming engineering challenges and finding solutions to tricky problems is hugely satisfying. I would definitely recommend it to those seeking a career that will challenge them mentally, and are ambitious to seek development opportunities."

For more information about the Linesman trainee programme and other apprenticeship opportunities at SSEN please visit: