By Jacqueline Stewart, Scottish Gas Smart Energy Expert.
Jaqueline Stewart is an apprentice Smart Energy Expert training at the Scottish Gas Academy in Hamilton.
Originally from Aberdeen, the 23-year-old recently swapped university life for a career in engineering. She said: “I was always interested in engineering because my dad worked in engineering for 30 years.
“After my Highers, I applied to study a degree in Law at university and felt slightly pressured into accepting the place as it seemed like the natural next step after school.
“Two years into my degree, I decided the academic route wasn’t right for me, so I decided to look at ways of getting into engineering.”
Jaqueline found an apprenticeship scheme with Scottish Gas- the company was seeking bright and ambitious budding apprentices to install smart meters.
She said: “I saw the job description for the Smart Energy Expert on the Scottish Gas website and had been hoping for an opportunity to come up for some time. When I saw the Aberdeen vacancy I knew I had to go for it!
“I’m only a couple of months in to my training now, but it’s the first time since I left school that I haven’t felt lost about my future.
“I’m already amazed by how many different skills I’ve learnt, from installing smart meters to talking with customers about smart energy monitors to manage their energy at home.
“Engineering is so dynamic and working with smart meter technology, it’s a sector that’s always changing. I’m so excited about my future now!”
Jaqueline was initially apprehensive about working in a traditionally male dominated field. She added: “I was a bit concerned when I started training, but I soon learnt that Scottish Gas supports every apprentice through the programme.
What advice would she give to a younger person considering engineering?
“I’d encourage anyone thinking about getting into engineering to not be afraid by the thought of getting physically stuck into the job. The apprenticeship route is a great way to get new skills, earn money and potentially a career.
She added “It takes a lot of hard work and at the end of the day, I feel so rewarded by my job. I know that I’m helping customers to save energy by installing smart meters in their homes and I get a real sense of satisfaction knowing my hands made the technology work.”
Jacqueline explains “My parents were so delighted for me and my dad was over the moon that I’d decided to go into engineering. He’s told all his friends at work! I’m one of five girls, so I think he’s pleased he can talk about work with at least one of us now too! I do hope I can inspire my younger sisters to think about engineering too, it’s a fantastic career if you work hard at it.”
And what about support from other people? “My friends were a bit shocked initially, as it was a huge change from law, but they can see that I’m so happy now. One of my friends also studied a law degree and is struggling to find a job now, so I’m glad I made the change and followed a career path that I’ve always felt passionate about.”
Jacqueline also said “If anything, being a woman makes me even more determined to prove that I’m just as good as the guys I’m training with. I want to work hard and succeed in my career for myself but also to inspire other women and young girls leaving school to consider this career path.”
Across Britain, Scottish Gas the has 1,600 Smart Energy Experts who visit customers’ homes to install smart meters. Scottish Gas is currently recruiting for apprentice Smart Energy Experts in Scotland. Visit www.britishgasjobs.co.uk for further information.