Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 14.08.14A North East-based power and distribution equipment supplier is powering ahead after promoting a former apprentice to a senior management role, reflecting its commitment to apprenticeships to secure the skills needs of its workforce.

Thirty six year-old Keith Mackay takes up the role of operations manager at Slaters Electricals after joining the company in 1998 as an electrical engineering apprentice.

He will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day control and operations, and planning for growth as the firm, which employs 48 people across its Scotswood Bridge Works and Sheffield branch, and has a turnover of £8 million, gears up to meet strong demand from national customers.

These include Jersey Electricity, Wensleydale Creamery, Arqiva and Tata Steel.

Slaters has a 70 year history of employing apprentices since being incorporated in 1946 and Keith is one of four members of the senior management team who have achieved career success at the firm after coming up through the apprenticeship ranks.

Supply chain manager Jim Storey, sales and tendering manager Gary Atkinson, and contracts and tendering manager Martin McGuirk are also former apprentices who together with Keith, have 130 combined years of experience working for Slaters.

Keith believes that apprenticeships remain one of the most beneficial ways for young people to get that important first-step on the employment ladder to gain the skills employers require.

“As a former apprentice myself, together with my senior management colleagues, there’s no better way to learn a trade and gain valuable skills than through an apprenticeship.

“Apprenticeships aren’t just for the larger companies. They are a cost-effective way for smaller, specialised firms like us to train the workforce to a high standard and make the business more competitive.

“The skill set required at Slaters is highly specialised, so it’s imperative that we continue to train a new generation of the workforce”

After joining Slaters as an 18-year-old, Keith completed his four year apprenticeship gaining a HNC and HND in electrical engineering, and completing a CAD drawing course as his career progressed from technical assistant and assistant technical manager to operations manager.

He’s also involved in the company’s apprenticeship programme which currently sees Chris Richards and Nicky Mowbray working towards completing their fourth year in electrical engineering this year.

Nicky Mowbray said: “I’ve always been a practical person and I was looking for a job that would allow me to learn a trade and a specialised skill set. The apprenticeship at Slaters has allowed me to do all that.

“Apprenticeships give you the chance to study for qualifications that are valued by employers – and you earn a wage at the same time. I really would recommend them to any young people who are in two minds about apprenticeships.”