As a 5th year pupil at North Berwick High, Callum started considering his options for life beyond school.

“A lot of my friends had their sights set on leaving school and going to university whereas I thought I would rather go to work and learn at the same time,” he said.

“Alternative routes like an apprenticeship seemed more suited to me.” Callum’s interests lay in physics, engineering science and design, as well as his sporting interests with the school and district rugby/ football teams, and volunteering with the RNLI and latterly HM Coastguard. After a discussion with the careers advisor, Callum began looking into apprenticeships and discovered an opportunity to become a Modern Apprentice in Mechanical Engineering with a naval engineering firm MacTaggart Scott.

Knowing that it would be a highly sought after role involving aptitude tests, and wanting to perform well, Callum approached East Lothian Works for mock interview preparation to ensure he was ready. The firm regularly receive a large number of applications for its apprenticeship positions, and Callum believes that this extra preparation was essential for enhancing his interview skills and confidence: “I knew there would be a lot of competition for the apprentice role so I knew the interview stage was something I really needed to shine at. Having that preparation definitely gave me a helping hand.”

He received a conditional offer based on his final exam grades and, after achieving these, started with the firm in September 2015, aged 16. MacTaggart Scott is a family-owned engineering company that specialises in hydraulic equipment, primarily for the Naval defence industry. “You work with raw material all the way through the an end product. There are many different positions and opportunities at MacTaggart Scott. As an apprentice I was able to learn about all the different departments within the business. It was a real eye-opener to see all the great things MacTaggart Scott are capable of,” Callum explains of the apprenticeship.

The transition from school to workplace took some adjustment, not least the logistics of travelling to work and college but the aspects of combining work and studying at college two days per week. He also praises MacTaggart Scott for their established apprenticeship programme, meaning he was well supported throughout. “MacTaggart Scott have had many apprentices go through their programme and therefore understand the process and how to transition school leavers into the workplace. The company supported me by giving me time to focus on studies especially around exams and throughout our apprenticeship we were paired with time-served engineers which was so valuable to my learning experience."

After completing his Modern Apprenticeship Callum was given the opportunity to move into a different career path within the business and made the move to the commercial function. “I found the customer relations role to be interesting and enjoyable - from negotiating contracts to overseeing projects". Callum and his employers agreed that with the career change the next step was additional and appropriate training, this has led him to undertake a Graduate Apprenticeship in Business Management at Heriot Watt University. The Graduate Apprenticeship is a four-year course on day release and, at the end, Callum will leave with an honours degree to complement his years of experience in the industry.

Now 21, Callum is grateful for the opportunities and experiences, which he would not have had if it weren't for East Lothian Works and MacTaggart Scott. “The company has invested time and money in me; helping me to develop and learn new skills every day which I greatly appreciate and I truely look forward to my future at MacTaggart Scott. Apprenticeships are a route I would definitely recommend,” he says.

Thanks to all of the apprentices who have shared their experiences with us to celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020. Find out about the opportunities apprenticeships could offer you.

Published: Friday, 6th March 2020