New way of working keeps apprentice programme bubbling along

A key part of the SSEN apprenticeship programme is the first-hand experience that comes from shadowing an experienced colleague, seeing how they do the jobs that feature in course books and college workshops, watching and learning as they go about their tasks, and also getting a better understanding of what it’s like to be working with customers in the real world.

Mentoring the career of a new colleague brings with it real responsibility, and the ever-evolving challenges of working safely during a pandemic give the mentor’s role an added layer of importance. 

Mikey Cummings has been with SSEN for over 12 years and is part of the regional team in Dundee, where he has been mentoring apprentice Darcie Lynch since last Spring. 

Mikey compares his apprenticeship with the way things have had to change since the arrival of coronavirus last year:

“When I was an apprentice, I really enjoyed learning on the job, it helped everything I was doing at college click into place. Driving is one of the most hazardous tasks we carry out and so a more experienced member of the team would have previously transported you to and from site. Travelling with your colleague was a great way of getting to know other members of the team, as well as picking up the kind of insight into the way things are done in real life that you just can’t get from a textbook on its own.

“Since the start of the pandemic we’ve been operating a “one person-one van” system for day-to-day work apart from emergency situations, and this could potentially have meant Darcie and other apprentices missing out on the chance to discuss the jobs and ask questions when they were travelling between sites.

“To safely maintain this all-important social element of the apprenticeship, we’ve set up “apprentice bubbles” where the apprentice only ever travels with their mentor, working the same shifts and taking the same holidays as them as well, which I think is a great way of keeping us all safe as well as supporting our colleagues at the start of their SSEN careers.”  

Speaking about the initiative, Darcie said:

“I think the ‘apprentice bubble’ is a great idea and something that’s really important in the current situation as it’s helping us all keep safe, as well as letting me continue with such an important part of my apprenticeship.

“Being able to shadow Mikey using the bubble system means that I’m still getting the invaluable experience of what it’s like to work out on site, seeing for myself the different types of jobs that we do and building up all the skills that I need for my career with SSEN.”

The above photo shows Darcie and Mikey taking a socially-distanced break from their work on site.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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