ETT apprentices have the world at their feet
by Craig McNeilly on 26 March 2012
International travel may not be your first thought when you think of electrical training, but the lifestyle of an electrician can be a very jet-setting. Even while training there are many opportunities for our apprentices to travel and build valuable work experience outside Northern Ireland.
Meet Glen Dunlop one of our apprentice electricians who is employed by T&T Electrics and is currently working on a project in Germany.
- What stage are you at with the apprenticeship?
I’m in the 4th year of my apprenticeship, I have completed my Onefile portfolio, I just need to sit my AM2 exam this year and then I will be a fully qualified electrician.
- What is your current project?
I am home for a few days after working for three months on a new Primark store in Saarbrucken, I will soon be flying back to Germany to start on another new Primark Store in Berlin. The company I work for, T&T Electrics, are a main subcontractor for Premier Electrics. Premier Electrics have a huge contract with Primark which involves the design, supply and installation of the entire lighting, electrical and security system for a number of new stores opening in Germany. Primark are expanding their operation across Europe and it has been said there will be electrical work there for the next 10 years.
- Where do you live while working in Germany?
The last job was in a place called Saarbrucken and I lived in a town called Burbach which was about 15km away. My employer organised an apartment for me, I lived with two other apprentices from Northern Ireland. It was in a nice area and my employer got us all monthly bus passes to travel to work each day.
- How do you find working away from home?
I don’t really feel home sick, I’ve been glad to get away. I don’t have any ties, so there is nothing stopping me. I love working away from home, the weather is better, the working conditions are great and it’s an opportunity to see the world while still learning your trade.
- Is the language barrier a problem?
On site there haven’t been any problems with language as most of the contractors are NI companies using NI sub-contractors, for example Patton was the main building contractor on the last job. There w bit of a language barrier outside of work, for example when ordering a meal in a restaurant, but there is always someone nearby who can speak English and help you.
- Is there a difference with Germanys electrical legislation?
In the most part things are the same. For anything which was different, I didn’t even need to ask, everything was explained to me in advance. One difference was that most of the conduit is plastic rather than steel. In Germany they don’t bend the conduit instead they do straight runs and use boxing at the corners.
- Would you recommend working abroad to other apprentices?
Definitely! I would recommend it to all apprentices it’s good to get out and see the world. I have gained a lot of experience from doing this work so it gives you something extra to put on your CV. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
- Did you receive help from your employer, to prepare for working abroad?
My employer has been great. They booked my flights for me and arranged a place to live so there wasn’t much I had to do to prepare for going. I have had my accommodation and travel expenses covered, all I’ve had to pay for is my food. They also offer a flight home every three weeks, this is a great option but I haven’t done this – that’s how much I enjoy being there.
- Have you had any other travel experiences through your apprenticeship?
Yes I have taken every opportunity which has come my way. During third year I had a job in Oxford at a Mosque, I have also worked on a Fire Training Centre in Edinburgh and a Wildlife park in Stirling.
- What are your plans for the future?
I hope to continue working in Europe, the next country I would like to work in would be Spain, I’m thinking about learning some Spanish before I go.