The search has already begun to find the next NICEIC and ELECSA Electrical Apprentice of the Year. We spoke to Mark Lee, winner of 2016’s competition, to find out how his, already successful, career is going.
This year’s Apprentice of the Year competition promises to be bigger and better with more tasks and even greater prizes up for grabs. Mark Lee from Essex claimed the top prize last time out. He was just a 22-year-old novice when he first applied to take part in NICEIC and ELECSA’s inaugural Apprentice of the Year competition back in 2015. He beat off competition from almost 400 entrants to claim the winner’s prize of a holiday voucher worth £2,000 and his employer, First Call Electrical Contractors Ltd, also received a year’s free registration with NICEIC as part of the prize.
Three months on from winning the title we caught up with Mark as he was helping with a consumer unit change at a house in South London. Working happily alongside other trades on a large house conversion, he appeared confident, well-rounded and in full charge of the situation.
“It has just been full on since the day I won,” commented Mark.
“Things just seemed to change straight away. I was given a lot more responsibility and my bosses seemed happy to just let me get on with things and see what I could do.
“I think the biggest change for me was confidence. I just entered the competition on the off chance – not really having a clue how I would get on.
“But as I progressed through each round I got more confident and winning the final was just unbelievable. It just confirmed to me I was doing the right thing.”
Mark is currently in the final year of his level 3 NVQ. While the academic side is not his favourite part of the job, Mark believes the win has pushed him to exceed.
“Learning in a classroom is not really for me and it can be hard to focus at college sometimes. But I know it has to be done and if ever I do get down about it I just think back to the final and it gives me the boost I need.
“I know that if I want to go and succeed getting in this industry then getting the right qualifications is part of it.
“Eventually I think I would like to go out on my own and start my own business. That is a long way off though. For now, I am happy doing what I am doing and getting the experience behind me.
“The guys at First Call have been great. They have given me a project of my own to work on as part of my NVQ. It’s a high spec job in a loft and I will be responsible for getting the materials to site, liaising with the client and architect and coming up with any solutions. It will be tough but I am looking forward to it.”
“To anyone thinking of entering I would say ‘go for it’. The prizes are amazing and it is a great test for anyone looking to make their way in the industry.”
Such has been the hectic workload since winning, Mark has not used up his £2,000 holiday voucher prize.
“I am still looking at things and deciding the best way to use it,” he added. “I have a few ideas and possibly looking at going to Miami or Mexico with a few mates and there is a music festival in the Alps that looks appealing. It will get spent.”
The additional tool bag and tools he received from Scolmore definitely have been used as he takes on more and more challenging work. With what looks like a successful career ahead, would Mark recommend the experience to other apprentices?
“To anyone thinking of entering I would say ‘go for it’. The prizes are amazing and it is a great test for anyone looking to make their way in the industry,” Mark concluded.