Scottish Apprenticeship Week – Chloe RiddellChloe joined Lothian straight from school and is a second year apprentice at Marine

Chloe Riddell is a second-year apprentice at Lothian. Joining in the summer of 2022, Chloe’s passion for mechanics led her to applying for a position in the well-renowned training course at the award-winning bus company.

With a whirlwind first year behind her, Chloe is excelling in her second year, and credits that to the step-up in training from first to second year.

“I feel that the knowledge I gained last year is helping me during my day-to-day work. I feel that now I can complete tasks without having to ask for too much help,” she said.

“The training has stepped up and is more intense but with the experience of last year behind me, I feel I have all the tools to succeed.”

Pun aside, Chloe is right. She is thriving as one of the two female Lothian apprentices and it’s not lost on Chloe that she is bucking the trend for women and young girls in Engineering. She would love even more girls to join her in the workshops across Lothian and hopes that out there, many who share her passion for fixing things and finding out how things work, follow in her footsteps.

Chloe believes there are many reasons why girls don’t see themselves having a career in Engineering, as there were a few doubts she had herself before joining.

“I think girls worry, like I did, that they’re going to be working with men all day and there’s probably not going to be any other girls there,” she said. “It’s also a very busy profession, you can get through the day covered in oil and lifting heavy tools.”

Thankfully, for both Lothian and Chloe, her passion won through in the end. She applied to the apprentice scheme as she was leaving school. Making a decision on her future at a very young age could have been daunting, but Chloe knew exactly what she wanted to do.

“I always had an interest in mechanics, and I knew all about the apprentice programme, so I really, really wanted a place on it.”

She added: “As I was leaving school, I knew I definitely wanted to go into Engineering.”

Being the only girl in her team, Chloe feels an added sense of responsibility to succeed, even just to show her fellow apprentices she belongs on the course.

“Being the only girl pushes me to prove people wrong and show them that I can do it. It drives me to being better and constantly improve on the job. I put the pressure on myself too, because there’s been so few females in the Engineering teams,” she said.

“I turn the responsibility into a positive and use it as motivation.”

The Lothian apprentice scheme is an extremely competitive course to get into, and a company of Lothian’s stature within Edinburgh and the Lothians has the best of the best to choose from. The on-the-job training gives trainees a real-life experience of servicing and repairing buses, and the apprentices learn their trade while contributing enormously to Lothian’s day-to-day operations.

This brings added importance to the Apprentice Scheme, adding pressure to those learning their craft. However, this didn’t faze Chloe one bit, and she’s grateful for the predominately garage-based learning.

“I find it easier to learn in a practical setting rather than a classroom,” she said. “Once I see something being done in the workshop, I can go try it out myself and become a better engineer almost instantly.”

With the added pressure, also comes the gratifying process of seeing your good work in front of your eyes. Chloe regularly services and repairs buses that she later sees on the road, sometimes on the same day.

“It is an accomplishment to see a bus you’ve worked on, out on the roads. I’m still telling myself ‘I did that!’ whenever I see it. That’s one thing that the apprenticeship can offer that other places can’t,” she said proudly.

Inside the apprentice programme, there is a camaraderie between the fellow trainees and their vastly experienced, fully qualified engineers. Chloe feels this especially, as she has felt very much a part of the team from day one.

“In my depot, the guys all feel like my big brothers, and they look after me and treat me like a little sister,” she said.

“They encourage me to learn my trade and make sure I get as much practice as possible on the tools and doing different aspects of maintaining the buses. There is no male/female divide at Lothian, we’re all the one team with the same job to do and the same goals.”

Across Lothian’s Engineering teams are managers and supervisors who were once apprentices themselves. Priding itself on bringing through its own people, and giving them the platform to develop successful, lasting careers at the business, Lothian invests in its people from day one.

Chloe takes inspiration from those around her, seeing the very real prospect of a long career at the company if she continues to develop her talents at her current rate.

“It’s great, knowing that a lot of the managers and supervisors were doing the same training as me not so long ago,” she said. “If you want to work your way up to management, Lothian will help you get there if you work hard enough.”

A year after joining Lothian, Chloe was joined in the ranks by Mia, a first-year apprentice who is working out of a different depot. Lothian currently has three female engineers, two in their apprentice scheme and another, Kirstin, working out of Central Garage as a fully-qualified Street Fitter, having completed her apprenticeship 5 years ago.

“I was buzzing when Mia joined,” recalled Chloe. “I was so happy to see another girl in the garages.

“It made me feel good about myself too, only being a year ahead of her, if we both get through our training together, we can inspire more girls to take part.”

In the future, Lothian is committed to bringing through the best talent for its apprenticeship course and is doing all it can to attract more female applicants. Chloe knows that out there, there are girls with the potential to be just like her.

“I would recommend the apprenticeship to anyone, particularly more young women. It’s a great place to learn a trade and develop a career and the guys are a great bunch work with,” she said.

“Anyone who hasn’t made their mind up about their future should consider coming here.”

Lothian prides itself on the success of its trainees, and champions the scheme at every opportunity. Chloe has spoken about her role as a woman in Engineering before, and believes her confidence has grown over the course of the last 18 months.

Chloe was runner up in the business’s ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award last year, and is determined to go one better before she’s finished her training.

“It was great enough for me that I was nominated and got invited to the awards ceremony,” she said.

“It was a nice little feeling of recognition for my efforts, and everyone noticing that I was doing well.

“I hope to continue to develop and get even better, so they invite me back again next year!”

Join Lothian's Apprenticeship Programme!

Applications are now open to join Lothian’s award-winning engineering team on its apprenticeship programme. The deadline to apply is Friday 29 March 2024. Details of the two apprenticeship types available can be found on our Apprenticeship page.