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Dounreay's 1000th apprentice earns his "ticket"

August 25, 2008

Gary Davidson with MSP John Park (left) and DSRL director Simon Middlemas

The 1000th young person to be taken on as an apprentice at Dounreay was among 15 newly-qualified workers who received their certificates at their site’s annual prize-giving.

Gary Davidson is now working as an electrician on the site closure programme following completion of his four-year apprenticeship.

He hit the headlines in 2004 when he became the thousandth young person to be recruited to the site’s apprentice training since the 1950s.

And he was back in the spotlight again with colleagues from the 2004 intake who received their “ticket” at the annual indenture ceremony at the Pentland Hotel, Thurso, at the weekend.

Among those presented with certificates was Stuart Coghill, a decommissioning apprentice with Nuvia who is the fourth generation of the Coghill family to work at the site.

The newly-qualified group heard the skills they had gained would shape the rest of their lives – but they probably did not realise just how much.

Guest speaker John Park said the training he gained as an electrical apprentice in Rosyth Dockyard in the early 1990s was invaluable in his current role – as the Labour Party’s spokesman on skills in the Scottish Parliament.

“Apprenticeships are not just about technical skills, they are about team-working, about leadership and communication,” said the MSP for Central Scotland and Fife.

“I did not quite appreciate it until much later in life when I became a union official. And I can assure you that the skills I learned at Rosyth are the skills I need in the Scottish Parliament – of working together with others, of influencing and getting out of tricky situations.

“There will be opportunities throughout your life in other parts of Scotland and the UK. You now have the skills that will take you right through your working life. That has never been so important as it is now. When I started, you probably had an average of two or three changes of career in your life. Now it is six or seven times.”

The former assistant secretary at the Scottish TUC is pushing for Scottish Parliament support for a Bill to expand opportunities for 16-18-year-olds to become apprentices.

Apprentice training manager Jim Swan said the Dounreay programme was a partnership involving numerous bodies and acknowledged the support of NDA, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and North Highland College. He also paid tribute to the in-house human resources team, the assessors and mentors and Anne Mair and John McGregor for maintaining the scientific training.

Three different companies participate in the Dounreay scheme – Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, Nuvia and Johnson Controls. Indenture certificates were presented to:

Stuart Coghill – decommissioning; Tommy Dunnet – electrical design; Gary Mackay – instrument; Neil Brims – electrical; Ian Shepherd – instrument; Jason Orton – mechanical; Ewan Geddes – electrical; Kyle Mackie – electrical; Ryan Macintosh – instrument; Lee Allan – instrument; Michael Macauley – mechanical; Stevie McConnach – electrical; Gary Davidson – electrical.

Certificates of completion in scientific training were presented to Ross Williamson, Katie-Jane McPhee and Vincent Tait.

Lachie Macmillan Trophy presented by JCL to the most improved apprentice – Andrew Harvey (third year, instrument).

Director’s trophy presented by DSRL to best all-round apprentice – Grant Anderson (third year, electrical).

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