After leaving high school when she was 17, Alexandra McGregor from Bishopton, Glasgow, joined the British Gas Service & Repair Engineer apprenticeship scheme. Now 25, she has been helping customers in Glasgow with their energy needs ever since.
Alexandra said: “I couldn’t think about studying for another four years at university. I liked the idea of getting an apprenticeship. I’d learn new skills, get paid and start a career.
“My friends were surprised that I was applying for an engineering apprenticeship; it’s definitely not a typical career path for a girl! But they supported me a hundred and ten per cent. My parents were also really supportive; they could see that an apprenticeship could give me a steady career and skills for life.”
Alexandra worked towards a two-year apprenticeship which involved a period of hands-on training at the Scottish Gas Academy in Hamilton. She was the only woman apprentice in a class of 11 at the time. She added: "The people I trained with and now work with every day have made this a great job, but it's a real mix of people. I would like to encourage more women to consider technical roles like this. It's a really rewarding job helping customers."
Talking about her experience at school, she added: "When I was in school, I was lucky enough to be encouraged to study science-related subjects. I think that’s where my passion for science and technology came from.
"Even now, one of the main things I love about my job is installing Hive Active Heating™ and Boiler IQ for customers. I have these products myself, so it’s easy for me to talk about the benefits they can offer customers."
As a result of her work, Alexandra was nominated for a MS Young Person of the Year award. She was inspired to volunteer because her brother was diagnosed with the disease when he was twenty.
She has also received a Millennium Volunteer Award for 200 hours of volunteering, which was presented by the First Minister for Scotland. Alexandra added: “I feel these experiences have helped with my career development and have made me a better engineer. I can talk freely to customers with complete confidence now.
“The apprenticeship has given me the best start in my career and it’s helped me grow personally too. I’d encourage women of any age to consider careers in scientific or technical fields; it’s been so rewarding and, hopefully for me, a career for life now.”