A week in the life of a HV fitter apprentice: Rory Sharp
From providing a pipeline of fresh talent to upskill and bolstering an increasingly competitive workforce to boosting levels of fulfilment and productivity, there are so many reasons why employers welcome the opportunity to onboard apprentices. This is true for most industries, but particularly in the electric engineering space — with organisations keen to transfer knowledge and skills from experienced workers to the next generation, to remain innovative and responsive to change.
As a company committed to fostering the young talent in the industry, Smith Brothers offers a range of exciting opportunities for people to learn, grow and develop. In return for their service, we equip successful candidates with the right resources and insight to work throughout the UK on our expanding number of projects – as well as a permanent position at the company, upon completion of the course.
To offer a flavour of life in such a position, this series explores the valuable role next-generation talent play in shaping the world of electrical engineering, and poses some food for thought for would-be apprentices. Next up, it’s Rory Sharp.
Name: Rory Sharp
Job title: HV fitter apprentice
1. How long have you been working at Smith Brothers?
It was September 2021, so around one year and seven months.
2. And how did you first hear about the opening?
My dad runs the college that Smith Brothers uses to train its apprentices, so he knew about the opening. He relayed the information to me, and I dug a little deeper into the offering, before applying soon after.
3. What sets Smith Brothers apart from other organisations?
The variety of work I undertake with the team keeps the job interesting. As well as involvement on major projects, such as battery storage and gas peaking sites, I play a key role in driving small works forward — like substation maintenance, plus transformer and switchgear installations. I also get to learn about other elements of the industry, such as cable jointing and commissioning.
4. How does the position compare to when you first joined?
With experience comes responsibility, so I’m now appointed with a greater number of tasks that are becoming increasingly complex. My team also has higher expectations in terms of the quality of work I produce. Although daunting, it’s nice to be trusted in such a way.
5. Finish the following sentence. The biggest misconception surrounding apprenticeships is:
That apprenticeships aren’t as good or ‘worthy’ as traditional learning routes. Degrees are great in a sense of showcasing a higher level of education, however the lack of no on-job experience or real life use cases means it takes so much longer to transition out of these pathways.
With an apprenticeship, you build experience directly in the discipline you are operating, as well as utilise your growing knowledge on a daily basis. Plus, these proven skillsets make it far easier to progress on a chosen career path — whereas University doesn’t guarantee a job once you complete your course.
6. What three words would you use to describe your role?
Interesting. Engaging. Diverse.
7. Give us a flavour of what your working week looks like:
Every week is different, as the projects and site locations vary. If the job is close to home, I can commute every day. However, if it’s further afield, I will travel there on Monday and make my way back home on Friday — staying in a local hotel for the week. It is also common to be on two or more different sites each week — meaning there is no ‘typical’ schedule. But I do enjoy the variety.
8. And what’s your favourite thing you’ve done, to-date?
It would have to be a 132kV–11kV grid transformer build. Seeing and completing such a large power project was really interesting to me — and being so closely involved in the process of building a piece of equipment that size was an invaluable learning experience.
9. Where do you hope your role progresses, once the apprenticeship is complete?
I would like to progress further into my role as a HV fitter, with a vision to move towards testing and commissioning aspects of the industry in the near future.
10. Finally, please offer some words for other would-be apprentices:
I think an apprenticeship is more valuable in the long-term than going to university, as it offers you on-the-job training and experience in the industry that you want to work in — empowering you to get the qualifications you want, while being paid. So, if you’re still mulling over the idea of an apprenticeship, this is your sign to go for it.
If Rory’s insight has left you keen to know more about Smith Brothers’ apprenticeship opportunities, please get in touch or head over to our careers page.