Tag: Apprenticeship

Scottish Apprenticeship Week – Kirstin RiddellKirstin was one of Lothian's first ever female Engineering Apprentices

Kirstin Riddell crashed through the gender barrier within Lothian’s Engineering Department. Joining nine years ago as one of the company’s first female Apprentice Engineers, Kirstin has shown the way for more girls and young women to follow their passion for engineering and mechanics, and becoming Lothian apprentices.

Kirstin completed her four years of training under the guidance of Lothian’s Depot Engineers and the vastly experienced time-served engineers within Lothian’s engineering workshops. Taking the natural step and becoming a full-time shift mechanic at Lothian, Kirstin believes the training she was given stood her in good stead for her career: “It was easy to transition from my apprenticeship into the full-time role.

“The confidence and knowledge I’d picked up during my training made it quite a natural pathway to just get on with it and develop a career here at Lothian.”

Lothian’s apprentice programme is extremely well-renowned across the country. Every year Lothian attracts hundreds of applicants from young hopefuls eager to join the award-winning business. Lothian also brings on a number of Mature Apprentices each year too, offering a change in career for anyone who has already started out.

Ironically, Kirstin joined the business as a young apprentice, however it still signalled a change in direction for her. She had just dropped out of university and was in need of a new challenge. Despite continuing to harbour dreams of becoming a police officer, Kirstin saw an advert for Lothian’s Apprentice scheme and thought, ‘Why not?’

Kirstin believes there’s a few reasons why more women and girls hadn’t put themselves forward for the scheme.

“Even if you don’t know a lot about Engineering, you have an idea that it’ll be a dirty job, wearing overalls that get covered in oil and the likes. There’s also a lot of heavy lifting involved,” she said.

“Of course, it’s a male-dominated industry too, but I had begun to develop a real passion for mechanics and fixing things, so decided to give it a go.”

Another major plus point for Lothian’s apprentice scheme, is the on-the-job training it affords its apprentices. Although there is collaboration with GTG, providing training and some classroom-based work for the team, it is a predominately practical apprenticeship, where the learning is done in-house.

For Kirstin, this is exactly what she was looking for, especially having dropped out of further education prior to joining.

“The apprenticeship being more hands-on benefitted me a huge amount,” she said.

“You can also earn while you learn here too, so you can throw yourself into gaining your qualifications while earning good money.”

Kirstin felt a degree of added pressure on herself, which she concedes she placed on herself initially.

“You definitely think that people believe you aren’t good enough or that you shouldn’t be here in your overalls covered in oil. It was another way to motivate myself though, I knew I wanted to do this, so proving everyone wrong would be another accomplishment at the end of my training.

The training is very involved from day one for the trainees, and the live-garage element adds a degree of pressure onto those on the course. Their efforts actually play a role in the day-to-day delivery of Lothian’s commitment to provide a safe, reliable public transport service for over 2 million customers per week.

Kirstin thrived under the pressure, and now in her current role as a Street Fitter, she still gets to feel that sense of accomplishment when she sees a vehicle she has worked on in service.

“Now, I attend broken-down buses and get them going again,” she said proudly. ”When you’re able to start a bus that has stopped it is a really good feeling. Especially if you are at a bus stop and see people queuing up for the bus, it’s really cool to be able to fix the bus and say to them ‘Here’s your bus ready for you!’”

“While I was serving my time, knowing that you’d helped service a bus and then seeing it out on the roads made you feel quite proud. You can’t get that feeling anywhere else.”

Lothian champions its apprentices whenever the business gets the chance. This adds a further element to the apprenticeship for the trainees, testing their ability to be on camera, discussing their training and recommending the scheme to the next group of apprentices. Kirstin is no stranger to Lothian’s website and social media channels, and believes that has enhanced her time at the business too.

“It helped build my confidence, having been involved on camera a few times and featured on the social media channels. I’ve even had my face plastered on the noticeboards across each depot!” she said.

“It was daunting at first, but I’m always happy to tell my story and hopefully encourage more girls into the field.”

Her encouragement worked, too. Since Kirstin joined the business, another three girls signed up to Lothian’s apprenticeship programme, with two currently in training. Kirstin allows herself some credit for this and hopes that even more girls join the industry in the future.

“I would imagine I had a small part to play, having gone through my training and proved that a career in Engineering is possible for girls here at Lothian,” she said. “It was a very lonely place for a girl when I started, but now we’re getting there and hopefully we can all inspire more girls to join.”

The Lothian apprenticeship is an exciting pathway to a challenging but ultimately rewarding, sustainable career. As the business moves forward in its decarbonisation journey, the apprentice scheme will have to adapt to reflect the influx of electric and zero-emission vehicles being rolled out across Edinburgh in the future. Kirstin is positive that this will encourage even more girls to don their overalls.

“It will make the scheme more desirable for young girls, as more electric training will take aware some of the dirtier elements of the job.”

She added: “We also probably won’t be working with tools that are as heavy, as technology improves day-by-day. It’s a really exciting time to sign up!”

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.

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.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week – Wojciech HernikWojciech has been at Lothian for 15 years and joined the Mature Apprenticeship last year

Wojciech Hernik joined Lothian in January 2009, and has enjoyed a long and successful career at Lothian to date.

After over a decade at the business, Wojciech joined Lothian’s Apprenticeship scheme as a mature apprentice. As he was previously a fueller/shunter and a labourer at Lothian, he was no stranger to the Engineering workshops across the business and already enjoyed a good relationship with the teams.

Wojciech always an interest in Engineering and began watching intently as Lothian’s experienced engineers went to work on maintaining Lothian’s fleet of over 700 vehicles.

“I always wanted to do something more mechanical based,” he said, “so I’m delighted to be in the apprenticeship course.

“I wanted to progress my career at Lothian and this is a great way of doing so.

“This is a completely new challenge for me. It’s what I want to be doing and I hope to get a job at the end of my training.”

Lothian’s Apprenticeship Scheme involves on-the-job learning as trainees take their place in one of Lothian’s five workshops across the business. The apprentices attend college classes at the GTG base in Newbridge to learn more about the industry and complement their practical learning at Lothian.

Wojciech believes he benefits from the hands-on learning on the course, which makes learning the various components of bus maintenance easier to understand.

In the second year of his three-year course, Wojciech acknowledges the step-up in training from his first year and the more independent aspect of learning the trade. Another sign of this step-up is the variation of shifts that Wojciech was been working this year, giving him more of an understanding of the role of Lothian’s mechanics and the tasks they complete every day.

“I’ve been on different shifts this year, helping with the runout of buses in the morning as well as helping with any faults that are detected when those buses come back,” he said.

“The training is more advanced in second year, and there’s still a lot of things to learn before we’re finished.”

Wojciech is thriving in his new chapter at Lothian, and credits the knowledge and experience of his colleagues as the reason why he’s taken to his new role so quickly.

“The knowledge the guys have in the workshops is incredible,” he said.

“Without their knowledge, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Their experience is invaluable. The guys are always happy to help you learn something new and make sure you’re keeping up.”

The Lothian Apprenticeship scheme is a challenging yet rewarding course, with structured pay for apprentices so they earn more as they progress through their training. Lothian currently has 24 modern apprentices on its books and Wojciech believes the learning environment has led to a strong bond between the apprentices learning their trade.

As a mature apprentice, Wojciech has already acquired a wealth of working experience, which he believes meant he could enjoy a running-start to his training. As he had worked at Lothian for 13 years previously, including stints at each of Lothian’s workshops, he already knew most of the guys he’d be learning from, meaning he had a step on the new-starts coming in from elsewhere. He said: “I think my life and work experience has given me an advantage over the other trainees coming in.”

Wojciech loves his new role as an apprentice engineer, and believes he has made remarkable progress since his first day on the course, and that is the most pleasing aspect of his learning so far.

“Looking back at where I was when I started, to where I am now, is really pleasing for me,” he said. “I think not just myself but all the apprentices have become better in that time, and we can only get better from here.”

Looking ahead to the future after his training, Wojciech wants to remain at Lothian and add to his already invaluable service to the company, which current expands over 15 years. Although it appears that now he has found his true calling as an engineer, he hopes to remain on the tools for as long as he can, and keep progressing up the engineering ladder.

On offer for Lothian’s apprentices is the platform to enjoy a long, lasting and successful career at the business. Across Lothian’s engineering teams, are managers and supervisors who were once part of the Lothian Apprenticeship scheme themselves. The current crop of trainees can actually see the promise of a career in front of them, should they possess the correct attitude and a willingness to learn.

Wojciech embodies this spirit, and has always thrown himself into new challenges during his time at Lothian. He is embracing this new chance and is determined to make a career as an engineer at the place he has called home for years.

Lothian’s mature apprenticeship offers a career change for many looking for a fresh start. The course is among the most well-regarded in the bus industry, and the apprenticeship field too. Lothian takes pride in its own people, and with Wojciech’s progression as a shunter, a labourer and now a mature apprentice, stands as a testament that Lothian will always reward the right people with the right attitude and work ethic.

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.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week – Stuart DunlopStuart joined Lothian's Mature Apprenticeship Scheme in 2022

Stuart Dunlop is making the most of his mature apprenticeship at Lothian, having spent over a decade working in the construction industry.

He applied to join Lothian’s Apprenticeship Scheme in 2022, and despite having no prior mechanical experience, was delighted to be offered the chance at a second career.

“I’d actually applied for an apprenticeship with Arnold Clark when I was 16, but I was unsuccessful,” he said. “So, I spent about 12 years on various building sites, but I fancied something different.

“When I saw the advert on Facebook, I jumped at it and luckily I was able to get on the scheme.”

Stuart always wanted to be a mechanic. He had a passion for engineering and believes the Lothian programme is the perfect platform for him to learn his trade. The on-the-job learning at Lothian is the ideal situation for Stuart, who much prefers a hands-on approach rather than having to learn things in a classroom and then replicate them later in a practical setting.

“I learn from actually doing the work, rather than reading from a board,” he said. “Actually, when I got to college as part of my apprenticeship here, I feel that I take things in better, purely because I’ve seen them in a practical sense before.”

Lothian’s Apprenticeship Programme is not only hands-on, but it’s incredibly involved from the first day. The vehicles that the trainees learn their trade on are the same vehicles which go out in service every day. This puts a level of pressure on the apprentices that not many other organisations can match. Stuart thrives under the pressure and is always mindful that while he’s learning, he’s very much a key part of Lothian’s service delivery.

“There is pressure for us in the garages,” he admitted.

“Public safety is extremely important so you know when you’re fixing a bus you need to do it right. If you stick to the guidelines and instructions you were taught, then you’ll be fine as we have a great team here.”

Believing it’s the best thing about the training, he credits his enjoyment of the course so far down to the hands-on experience and the expertise of his colleagues.

“In the garage is where you’re going to learn everything you need to be a successful engineer at Lothian,” he said. “You may know how certain parts work, but when you watch the guys do it properly and safely, that’s where the real learning comes.”

Stuart loves the variety of tasks he’s been given to do during his training. No two days are the same at Lothian, and Stuart is gaining a wealth of experience in a short space of time.

Stuart is now in his second year of his training, and has acknowledged the step-up in learning from the first year of the course. As the Mature Apprenticeship course is done over three years instead of four, the learning is much faster and more intense.

“Since Christmas and into the new year,” he said, “the learning has really stepped up from our first year. There are now more courses and more training, even our days at college are becoming more in-depth.

“We are doing a lot more tasks on our own as well, which is nice as we’re able to put our knowledge to use now.”

Although there is an added pressure of having got through the course quicker than the young apprentices, who do four years, Stuart believes his experience on building sites gave him a running start to his training.

“I was well versed on health and safety,” he said. “In my previous job that was just as important as it is here, so I went in aware of the need to be safe at all times.

“I’ve also the experience of having worked before, the expectation to be on time and be presentable and such.

“The life experience I’ve picked up has been a help, too. I can adapt to different situations as well as learning on the go.”

Despite all this experience, Stuart is just as eager to learn from the guys who have been working at Lothian for many years. He credits his progress to the willingness of his colleagues to help and their eagerness to see him and his fellow apprentices succeed.

He thrives alongside his apprentice colleagues and believes that Lothian has garnered a real positive environment for its trainees.

“It’s good having the other apprentices,” he said. “We lean on each other and help each other when needed. Because the training is so varied, you may have done a task that someone else hasn’t, so you can pass on your knowledge and they can do the same for you.”

Stuart’s favourite thing so far about his apprenticeship is the progression he’s seen in himself in just 18 months. He is also grateful of the time and effort he feels everyone at the garage has put into him, which motivates him to keep learning his trade and develop a long and successful career at Lothian.

“If you go in with the right attitude, the team will do everything they can to help you and push you on,” he said.

“You need to show them that you want to be here and want to learn.

“Lothian gets a new class of apprentices every year and even more applications so it’s a very competitive course to get into, so it is right that you show you are willing to learn.”

Stuart would recommend the mature apprenticeship programme to anyone looking for a career change and knows that his own success story so is testament to Lothian’s dedication to their trainees and their faith in their own people.

“Just go for it,” he urged. “Jump in at the deep end and show a willingness to train.

“You may be on with someone younger than you, but they’ll be a time-served mechanic so just be open-minded and take everything in.

“This is a great place to work and once I’ve completed my training I’d love to stay on full-time and work here for as long as I can.”

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.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week – Cameron InnesCameron Innes is a second year mature apprentice at our Longstone Depot

Cameron Innes joined Lothian’s mature apprentice scheme in 2022. Cameron had no mechanical experience before he joined the company, but he was always eager to find out more about engineering and how vehicles were maintained.

Cameron’s dad works at Lothian and he made Cameron aware of the apprenticeship programme as he was leaving school. Due to the pandemic, Lothian paused its Apprenticeship Scheme for new entrants for a few years, meaning that when the scheme opened again in 2022, Cameron was too old to join as a ‘young’ apprentice.

However, he was still able to join the company as a mature apprentice, and he’s now well into his second year of training at Lothian. He has come a long way in a short space of time, and is already eying up a long, successful future at the business.

“I was working at Marks and Spencer when the apprenticeship scheme opened up again, so I came into this with no mechanical background,” he said. “I had a real eagerness to learn and as my dad was a driver at Lothian, he thought it would be a good move for me.

“I’ve picked up so many skills so far. I’ve really got into the training and it’s been really exciting since I joined.”

The hands-on experience that Lothian offers its trainees is unique from many other apprentice programmes. Lothian’s apprentices learn as they work, and play a key role in the maintenance of Lothian’s fleet, which delivers for over 2 million customers per week.

Cameron much prefers this style of learning, believing that it’s the best way to pick up new skills.

“I applied to the scheme because of the nature of the learning,” he said. “I had to watch the guys a few times when attempting new tasks, but that’s how you learn effectively.

“Now the guys in the garages are happy to let me attempt tasks myself”

Having left behind his previous job working in the café at his local Marks and Spencer supermarket, Cameron found the career change he was looking for at Lothian. Determined to throw himself into something completely different, his positive attitude and eagerness to learn meant he was able to pick everything up so quickly.

He is inspired by the fact that many of the managers and supervisors in Lothian’s engineering teams are former apprentices themselves, highlighting the pathway Lothian offers its trainees towards a long career.

“I was looking for a job for life, and I’ve definitely found the opportunity of one here,” he said. “My dad told me how he’d seen so many apprentices come through their training and continue on within the business.”

Lothian’s apprenticeship scheme offers a sense of accomplishment that not many other programmes do. By learning in a working garage environment, the trainees can see the fruits of their work in front of them. The vehicles they learn their trade on are the same vehicles which go out in service every day across Edinburgh and the Lothians. Although that may bring added pressure to the apprentices, it does equal a more rewarding experience too.

“It feels good to see a bus you’ve been working on out on the roads,” admitted Cameron.

“You do feel good knowing that you played your part in fixing or servicing the bus and its out on the road because of something you did right.”

Cameron is half-way through his three-year apprenticeship already, and while he has learned a lot so far, he knows he definitely has more learning to go.

Lothian’s structured training means the learning for apprentices gets progressively more advanced as they work through their apprenticeships. The pay goes up each year, too, rewarding its trainees for successfully completing each year of the schedule.

“The training has stepped up in the last year, especially the last few months,” he said.

“It’s been the quickest 18 months of my life but probably the best, too. I’ve just learned so much from the team at Longstone.

“It feels like there’s not much time left but every day we’re learning and taking things away with us so I’m just trying to learn one day at a time.”

Another positive of Lothian’s Apprentice Programme is the team spirit across its workshops. Lothian is proud to boast about its high-quality, hugely-experienced engineering teams across the business.

Everyone plays their part to ensure the trainees have the platform they need to succeed in the training. Cameron is thankful for the support he’s received so far, and the camaraderie between the apprentices too.

“The guys are great; we’ve got people from all different backgrounds and their knowledge is incredible.

“I’m still getting tasked with things that I haven’t tried yet, and if I’m ever struggling, I know I can just ask one of the guys and they’ll help.

“Knowing you’ve got that help really goes a long way to helping you succeed.”

Alongside his fellow apprentices, both young and mature, Cameron believes that Lothian is a great place to learn the trade and gain the qualifications needed to become a time-served mechanic.

As a mature apprentice, Cameron already has experience of working a full-time job, and thinks this has enabled him to hit the ground running during his time at Lothian. He believes he picked up some skills from his M&S days that he is still relying on now.

“Speaking to customers on a daily basis really helped me with my communication skills,” he said. “I’m also comfortable working in a team, which has made learning from the guys easier for me and settling in to a new team at Lothian.”

Cameron’s favourite thing about his time at Lothian so far is the feeling that everyone wants him to succeed, from his fellow apprentices to his colleagues, supervisors, managers and directors.

In just 18 months, Cameron has discovered a new passion for engineering, and believes he’s in the right place at the right time. He credits his positive experience with the connections and friendships he’s made in a short space of time, coupled with the abundance of skills he’s developed at the business.

He’s well aware of his surroundings too, and has an eye on progressing at the business, just like his colleagues have done previously.

“I love working on the tools, so I’d like to stay, post-apprenticeship and continue to develop my skills on the tools,” he said.

“However, I would like to progress at Lothian and keep climbing as high as I can like the managers and supervisors before me.”

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.