When Aberdeen’s oil and gas industry fell upon hard times, Lisa Hamilton seized the opportunity to turn her career around by moving into a Modern Apprenticeship. Lisa had been working in temporary admin roles with various employers prior to the downturn in Aberdeen, but roles like these soon became hard to come by.
The 29-year-old decided to take matters into her own hands and kick-start a new career as a plumber. Lisa said: “Back in 2015, when things started to go wrong for the economy here, I couldn’t find any temp roles and I wasn’t looking for a permanent role, because I hated the work I was doing. I guess that gave me the kick that I needed to change my career and apply for an apprenticeship.”
Stonehaven native Lisa has now been with Aberdeen-based building services company FES for just under a year as part of a four-year Modern Apprenticeship in plumbing and heating.
Modern Apprenticeships let individuals work, earn and learn, training towards an industry-recognised qualification while working full-time and earning a salary.
The fact that I was getting trained to do the job really appealed to me about the apprenticeship. It was a new challenge and, as a plumber, I’ll never be short of work
Lisa Hamilton, plumbing apprentice
Lisa is studying towards a Level 3 SVQ qualification in plumbing and heating through Tullos Training. She attends the training centre in two-week blocks on release from her day job.
“The job and the training really complement each other,” she said. “I think my apprenticeship is giving me really good experience. If you went to college, employers would still be looking for experience. With an apprenticeship you get the best of both. You get the experience on the job and the qualification.”
The aspiring plumber says that one of the most interesting things about the apprenticeship was the fact that it will lead her into a life-long career and that she gets to learn in a hands-on way.
She explained: “The fact that I was getting trained to do the job really appealed to me about the apprenticeship. It was a new challenge and, as a plumber, I’ll never be short of work.”
As well as offering a change of career, a steady income, improved confidence and teamworking skills, Lisa says that her apprenticeship is keeping her mind active and stimulating her in a way that previous jobs didn’t.
She said: “I feel like I’m learning a lot more than I would if I was sitting at a desk, looking at a spreadsheet. I like that I get to travel about too and meet different people. I’m never based in the one place.”
FES employ over 150 apprentices nationwide and according to Craig Sutherland, the firm’s Community Benefits and Supplier Engagement Manager, apprentices like Lisa are crucial to the company’s success.
Craig said: “Our apprentices are the next generation of tradespeople. There’s a skills gap throughout Britain. If people look after their apprentices it bodes well for the country as a whole.
“In Aberdeen, everyone wanted to go into oil and gas. When that hit hard times people had to look elsewhere. Our apprenticeship gives people options. We offer multi-skilled apprenticeships, so you can go into different things. There are really good prospects with an apprenticeship.”