This month saw the annual, government-supported, weeklong initiative – ‘National Apprenticeship Week’. The celebration aims to showcase how apprenticeships have helped employers and people of all ages and backgrounds, which inspired us at Strata to honour some of our own apprenticeship success stories.
We caught up with Nathan Stevens, an Electrical Engineer now aged 25, who joined us as an apprentice in July 2012 aged just 16, having completed his GCSE’s at school only a matter of days beforehand.
What has been your course and qualifications for your apprenticeship with Strata?
“A 4-year, City & Guilds Level 3 Electro Technical Technology 2357 qualification, attained through Mid Kent College.
This involved 3 years of spending 1 day per week at college, with the other 4 out on the tools. The 4th year was then based on portfolio assessments created from my work completed at Strata.
I have also since achieved my qualifications in ‘Initial and Periodic Electrical Inspection and Testing (2391)’, as well as the CITB SSSTS Site Supervision course, all backed as part of my role at the company.”
Now that you are fully qualified, what is your role at Strata?
“I predominantly work as a Maintenance Electrician, however my job is really varied which is one of the things I love best about it, meaning I also work on electrical install projects and I am also starting to work on sites as a Site Supervisor thanks to Strata putting me through my supervising ticket. Thanks to all the different types of work that the company does, I have become a multi-skilled operative, but my core trade is always electrical.”
What do you love most about your job?
“I enjoy turning up every day knowing that its always going to be different, with new challenges. I also have really enjoyed all of the training I have got to do, and all of the things I have learned from it.
That is why I am glad that I didn’t do my apprenticeship through an electrical contractor, because the different types of works that Strata does has made me a better engineer with a more rounded experience.”
What attracted you to the Electrical trade?
“Well my dad is an electrician, so I sort of followed on from him, and I also just really wanted to get out of the school environment. I achieved decent grades at GCSE, but I just really wanted to go into a practical hands-on environment where I wasn’t sat at a desk all day every day. I wanted to get out and work and earn money, and getting a trade like electrical just opens up a lot of opportunities.”
What do you spend your time on outside of work?
“Going to the gym and as many nice holidays as we can go on (when Covid allows it). My partner and I are saving up to buy a house as well which I am really focussing on at the moment.”
What do you want to do with your career next?
“Eventually one day I would like to be a business owner myself, but the next steps for me really are to work my way towards a contract management role, perhaps on large construction projects in London or facilities management.”
What is the next qualification you would like to do to support your career progression?
“I would like to get my NVQ in Project Management to help me achieve my goal of managing my own contracts.”
What is a typical day like for you at Strata?
“Well because of the diverse range of property work that Strata does, there is no ‘typical day’ as such, which has always been something that I have really liked. Generally speaking, it involves heading out fairly early, 5/6 o’clock in the morning, and heading up the A2 into London with a coffee. We have to carry out so many different types of tasks throughout the day that we need to keep a well-stocked van with a wide range of different tools for the jobs onboard, meaning we can’t often take the tube into town!”
What is the dynamic like in your team?
“What’s so good about Strata is, we don’t work as separate teams, that is what I really like.
I hear from a lot of other operatives from other companies that I meet on sites who say that they feel very far removed from the office-based and management teams in their company. At Strata I often hear from the Directors and Managing Directors, and I have always felt like I can pick up the phone to any one of them and speak to them about anything at all.
Everyone respects each other and genuinely gets on and there aren’t loads of layers of people passing down instructions before the information can get to me.
Everyone treats each other the same here. Last year for example, during the chaos brought by the global pandemic, I was going to sites where my line manager (Operations Director – Gordon Botten), was physically rolling his sleeves up and getting his hands dirty to help us get works sorted out on time. He wasn’t afraid to get himself behind the back of a toilet to fix a leak with me!”
What are you most looking forward to at Strata when Covid restrictions finally end?
“All getting together for a few overdue drinks on Nick!
We missed out on last year’s Christmas party, and I have missed going for a few drinks together at the end of the week, or at the end of a big job. It will be great to all get together and I am looking forward to seeing everyone again in person.”