This week (1-5 March 2021) is Scottish Apprenticeship Week – a time to share the value apprenticeships can bring to individuals, employers and the economy. This year’s theme is ‘Business Backing Talent’, showcasing the great things that happen when employers back talent through apprenticeships.
We’re taking this opportunity to catch up with some of our apprentices to learn more about their experiences, plans for the future, and advice for others considering taking up an apprenticeship programme at Lothian.
Meet Aaron McKinnon, apprentice mechanic
How long have you been an apprentice at Lothian?
I’ve been an apprentice at Lothian for four years now.
What made you apply to become an apprentice at Lothian?
There’s a funny story I never actually applied to become an apprentice at Lothian. I applied for an apprenticeship at Arnold Clark but they actually shut the second I went for the interview. They told me I could interview at Lothian so I said yes and went for that instead. I’m glad I did!
Did you have a passion for engineering beforehand?
Yes, I’ve been interested in engineering for a while, I volunteered my time down at my local railway station restoring diesel and steam engines. I worked on my car as well and thought why not get a proper qualification out of this.
Do you remember your first day as an apprentice? What was your first task?
Yes! It was my first day I got stuck with the nickname that’s followed me around the garage for four years – Sheldon! [from The Big Bang Theory]. My first task was working on a handbrake valve. It wasn’t even supposed to be my first task but an engineer shouted me over and I sort of just watched then replicated what he’d shown me. The first week was mixed. I remember doing a lot of different tasks, it was scary getting used to all the different tasks really.
“It makes you work that extra little bit harder knowing your work is vital to so many people.”
Would you say you have benefited from the day-to-day on-job training Lothian provides their apprentices?
Yes absolutely, just before lockdown my dad decided he was going to renovate the house, so due to the training provided here I had the tools and the experience to help. The training has allowed me to help not only in the job but outside work too. I do work on my own car, as well as helping do work on the cars of friends and family.
How do you feel about the working environment the garages offer?
It’s a great place to work, the banter is brilliant between the team. Everyone works together and makes sure the jobs are done to everyone’s ability.
Do you take pride in your work, providing safe buses that serve your local area?
You’ve got to really – my girlfriend reminded me that my job helps older people get to the bingo and for their shopping, even in times like this we are helping people make the essential journeys to their workplaces. It makes you work that extra little bit harder knowing your work is vital to so many people.
What has been the best part about being an apprentice at Lothian?
I’m quite fortunate in the position I’m in, the apprentices are well paid here compared to apprentices in other places. The job is relatively close to me so I’m not travelling miles to get here. It’s a good place to work.
What are your plans for when you finish your apprenticeship?
I do have a plan, however I’m very superstitious so I’ll keep it under wraps as I don’t want to jinx it!
If you could sum up your Lothian experience in one sentence, what would it be?
An eye-opening hard day’s work with the benefits of good mates and a decent lifestyle.
Would you recommend the Lothian apprenticeship to other people?
Definitely, especially because of the diversity in our apprentices. We have young and mature apprentices in the garages. You get to learn new skills and the jobs very rewarding.
Give one piece of advice for an apprentice on their first day in the garage?
Keep your head down, get the work done and you’ll be fine. And for the banter, give it back as good as you get it.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, we have temporarily suspended apprenticeship recruitment but you can find out more about courses with GTG Training who we deliver our programme in partnership with: GTG Automotive Apprenticeships.