An award-winning firm has stepped up its ‘grow your own’ staff policy by recruiting four new apprentices and starting an employee mentoring programme. NES (North Electrical Services) Ltd, which is based in Inverness and Elgin, has already more than trebled its workforce since setting up four years ago with 14 people.  

Its commitment to safety and developing new staff has seen NES overcome larger national companies to win prestigious awards in successive years from SELECT, the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland, which represents more than 1,250 companies, 15,000 electricians and 3,500 apprentices. NES picked up the award for Best Electrical Safety Project in October, having won the Best Use of Training category in 2015.

The company has recently awarded four new apprenticeships to youngsters in Inverness and Elgin. It brings the total number of apprentices to 11 in a 48-strong workforce. Craig Mone and Owen Laing are based in Elgin and Lewis Bates and Jordan Macdonald work in Inverness. At the same time, Elgin-based Scott Mathieson has become the first apprentice to complete the four-year training and join the firm as a fully-qualified electrician.

NES will also shortly begin a new mentoring programme that will see Scott and other more experienced apprentices advise and help those at earlier stages in their training. It is part of a continuously evolving strategy to recruit, develop and retain a skilled workforce which includes High Performing People, a personal development programme to encourage apprentices into other areas of the business, such as project management. 

NES director Keith Paterson said: “Since our inception, two of our core principles have been to grow organically by developing our own apprentices and to ensure that safety is at the heart of everything we do.

“Our employees are not just taught the correct technical skills; we also instil in them a culture of working and behaving properly at all times.

“What is so rewarding is that the practices that won us these recent awards were not for specific projects, but for work we do day-in-day-out. We didn’t do anything we don’t normally do to earn this recognition.”

NES receives about 50-60 applications for apprenticeships each year and also holds work experience courses for school pupils during the summer. 

Mr Paterson added: “Our ethos has been to build in-house and generate our own future workforce. We are one of the few companies to do it, but we believe it’s the right thing to do and it means we have a stable and loyal workforce.
“We want to ensure our employees learn the correct habits and have a chance to progress to the highest possible level. Our mentoring scheme and High Performance People programme will help achieve that.”

Scott Mathieson said: “NES is highly regarded in the industry, for the way it focuses on developing apprentices and using best practices. I have received a first class training over the past four years and now will help ensure those starting out on their careers will learn the correct skills in the correct way.” 

NES’s services include industrial and commercial electrical installation and maintenance works, control and instrumentation, electric motor repair, overhaul and rewinding. Its experienced workforce includes electricians, project engineers, estimators and a full-time health and safety manager, a post normally found in much larger businesses. NES won this year’s Best Electrical Safety Project for its Safety at the Centre initiative, which built on the Beyond Compliance programme in 2015.

This included a weekly safety review involving directors, managers and engineers; the issuing of safety prompt cards to all employees for guidance on a number of topics; and providing electricians and apprentices with personal protective equipment (PPE) bags to ensure the correct tools are available for the task at hand.