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Inspiring the next generation

Mar 2018 Training | Comments Off on Inspiring the next generation
Inspiring the next generation

Hager is striving to inspire the next generation of electrical professionals through an innovative educational partnership. Training manager Paul Collins explains how. And, Hager’s building automation support engineer Matt Price highlights the important role this generation of digitally savvy apprentices can play in capitalising on the commercial opportunities the growth of home automation presents

Hager training manager Paul Collins: National Apprenticeship Week took place in March and was a week-long celebration of apprenticeships – designed to showcase how apprenticeships work for individuals, businesses, communities and the wider economy.

With the Government committed to delivering three million apprenticeships by 2020, Hager is also playing its part when it comes to specifically supporting the development of the next generation of electricians. Our ‘Partners in Education’ initiative, which launched last year, sees us partner with a number of further education colleges across the UK to help enhance the learning experience for budding electricians.

Recently, Ayr College has become the latest establishment to join a growing number of establishments giving their students the chance to benefit. Providing practical and educational support for colleges when teaching electrical apprentices and students, Hager supplies equipment from its broad product portfolio, allowing students to work with the latest product models as they begin their journey towards final qualification.

In addition, we are also delivering further support through technical materials such as easy-to-understand reference guides to industry terminology for those new to the sector and interactive training classes with Hager’s technical experts.

We have been delighted with the positive response from colleges around the UK to this new initiative. It is important that, as a major manufacturer, Hager strives to support colleges to help create the next generation of electricians.

By partnering with a number of further education colleges, we have been able to provide students with access to the very latest technology and product solutions. This optimises the opportunity for students and apprentices to work with market leading products such as Hager’s MCBs and RCDs. In addition, we are providing a range of marketing materials such as posters and guides that colleges can use to further enhance their students’ learning experience.

As part of this initiative, we also plan to sponsor prizes for a number of ‘Top Student’ awards for individual colleges, as well as offering an innovative service where colleges can request replacement components rather than ordering complete units, such as instances when a terminal fails on a consumer unit.

Hager’s building automation support engineer Matt Price:

Having been one of the first cohorts of new apprentices back in the early 1990s, Hager’s building automation support engineer Matt Price understands first-hand the role that apprentices play within the electrical industry.

Recently elected to the KNX UK Association Board, the building control standard in building automation, Matt is a leading expert and advocate of building automation and sees the important role apprentices will play for the future of this technology.

Q: How has the role of an apprentice changed since you were an apprentice in the 90s?
As part of my current role at Hager, I regularly visit colleges and further education facilities around the country.

This alignment between business and education continues to be strengthened, and stretches far beyond delivering product knowledge. Instead, the focus has moved onto the ways we can support upcoming and existing professionals throughout the duration of their career.

The fast pace at which the electrical industry is evolving means we need to further strengthen the links between manufacturers, education and even governing bodies to ensure that what’s being taught still holds its place within the industry.

Q: How important is the role of apprentices in industry today?
The importance of apprentices should never be underestimated and it’s vital we have support systems in place to continue to encourage fresh blood into the industry, whether that’s through career changes, graduate schemes or apprenticeships. They all have a vital role to play in helping to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to support continued growth for the electrical sector.

Q: What role will apprentices play in future-proofing the electrical industry?
The role of apprentices has never been more important. In fact, not only are they helping fill the current skills gap, but they are also instrumental in helping further drive business growth.

What we are seeing now is the rise of the digitally savvy apprentice, a generation that has been brought up with a host of technology at their fingertips. For many this technology is predominantly used in a personal capacity, but it also holds benefits within a professional environment.

Today’s apprentices are a generation of analytical thinkers who inherently understand that technology is a function to make our lives easier, meaning they approach the specification process differently; looking for opportunities to suggest technology that may previously have not been considered – all with the overarching focus of making the lives of customers and end users easier.

Q: In what ways will the role of apprentices help the UK benefit from the opportunities presented by home automation?
As a result of the digitally aware apprentices we are also seeing the beginnings of the apprentice cycle taking place. This evolution is how we will see the role of apprentices continue to change over time, in turn delivering increased commercial opportunities to electrical businesses.

Of course it’s vital that apprentices are supported with education facilities and professionals working across the industry passing on fundamental skills such as electrical theory, compliance, health and safety and governance. Once these apprentices enter the professional sphere, it’s about learning from them, transferring their digital skills across to existing professionals for a collective gain.

At Hager, we recognise our role within this cycle, which is why we provide regular training to electrical contractors and electricians. These events are proving popular with younger professionals, including apprentices. Yet, more than this, what we are also seeing as a business is that attendees are going back to the office and transferring their newly acquired knowledge, which has resulted in a rise among more mature professionals joining training courses.