Changes widened scope

24th September 2004 at 01:00
Nearly half a century ago Tony Morgan started his working life as a 15-year-old apprentice electrician with the Southern Electricity Board.

Today he heads a company with a pound;20 million-a-year turnover which employs 300 people, and he was recently appointed president of the Electrical Contractors Association.

The company he founded in 1963, Wessex Electrical based in Shaftesbury, Dorset, is training 25 apprentices.

He said: "I left school with no qualifications but a burning desire to be a good electrician. When I look to recruit apprentices for my businesses, the quality I look for most is enthusiasm."

His was a six-year apprenticeship and, even if the course was completed earlier, apprentices could not qualify until they were 21 years old.

"It was totally different to how it is now," he added. "It was a craft apprenticeship, which meant you covered pretty well everything in the electrical and related industries. Today, apprentices are by and large trained in installation work related to the construction industry.

"It is not as wide-ranging as it was back in the 1950s."

But he said an electrical apprenticeship opens up more opportunities now than in his day. "It was rare to go off and set up your own company as I did.

"Now so many of our trained electricians go off and do other things like design, distribution, or consultancy. It is a passport to work for the rest of your life."

There is one more marked difference. "When I was training, if I got something wrong I got a clip round the ear. I accepted it. It wasn't abuse.

"I had a great deal of respect for the tradesmen I worked with. I got an education in life from working with grown-up men."

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