Service and repair engineer, Vicky Smith, 27, from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, trained as an apprentice at the Scottish Gas Academy in Hamilton, Glasgow, before qualifying in January 2013.
Since then Vicky has gone from strength to strength, and has been nominated for the Academy’s ‘Apprentice of the Year’ for her hard-working, caring and positive attitude.
Before Vicky decided to apply for an apprenticeship with Scottish Gas, she looked into other practical career paths, but struggled to find the right option for her.
She said: “I left school aged 17 with eight Standard Grades and four Highers. I absolutely loved maths and science when I was in school, but I wasn’t ever encouraged to choose a career in these subject areas.
“When I left school, I was keen to find work in a hands-on job but struggled. At first I worked in retail but it wasn’t for me. I then decided to study for a degree in Surveying at Aberdeen University. I enjoyed the course but I didn’t enjoy university life.”
Vicky left university and applied for an HNC in Electrical Engineering at Aberdeen College. She passed the course and then found a role with Scottish Gas.
Speaking about her experience on the apprenticeship, Vicky said: “I could see that by joining a company like Scottish Gas, there would be so many opportunities to have a rewarding career in engineering.
“I really liked being at the Academy. It was great to learn from experienced engineers and I was given a lot of support from my teachers and others in my class. The best part about my training was the mix of classroom and workshop learning, as well as shadowing engineers.”
One thing that didn’t come as a surprise to Vicky was that there weren’t many women in her class. She said: “When I was at school, girls weren’t really encouraged to go into technical careers like engineering. I think young people should have the chance to follow any route they wish.
“There were 12 of us in the class, and my roommate and I were the only girls on the programme. We were trained in the same way and supported as much the other apprentices. I knew that the Scottish Gas trainers were interested in developing our skills to become the best engineers we all could possibly be.”
Vicky is now a fully qualified engineer. She said: “Four years on, I’m qualified and happily working as an engineer near where I grew up. It’s been the best experience for me, both professionally and on a personal level.
“I would encourage girls to consider technical or scientific careers when they’re leaving school. It’s been really rewarding for me and I would like to see more women considering careers like mine.”