Alex Goodall, from Aberdeen, never thought he’d be changing career paths in his 40s. But after 25 years working in the fitness industry, Mr Goodall wanted a new lease of life.
The 44-year old is now training as an apprentice Smart Energy Expert with Scottish Gas. Once qualified, he will instal smart meters in customers’ homes in Aberdeen.
He said: “I’ve worked as a personal trainer since the early Nineties and enjoyed the physical side of the job. But when the recession hit, I had fewer clients and I looked at selling gym equipment. It was a struggle financially at times.
“Turning 40, I started to realise that a career in fitness had a short life-span. I couldn’t imagine myself training people in their 20s at 60. So, I started to think about my options – that’s when I found the apprenticeship.”
Mr Goodall is married and is a father of two, so being able to support his family financially was an important factor in his career plans.
He said: “I have a son who’s just finished university and a daughter who will be considering university next year. That’s why it wasn’t an easy decision for me to re-train later in life.
“I knew an apprenticeship would give me a wage while I trained but it would mean a drop in income in the short term. My wife was so very supportive and we worked out that we could manage our finances for my training period.
“Then, when I was offered a place, we discovered we were going to have a baby. We worked out that I would be qualified by the time the baby arrived so it was good news all round.”
In September, Mr Goodall started training at Scottish Gas’ Academy in Hamilton. More than 500 apprentices have qualified from the academy over the last five years. The company invests around £30,000 in training each engineering apprentice.
Mr Goodall spent his initial weeks gaining technical skills and knowledge. More recently, he has shadowed qualified Smart Energy Experts installing smart meters in customers’ homes around Aberdeen.
He said: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of the training so far. On day one at the academy, I met people of all ages and backgrounds and I soon knew I’d made the right decision.
“The facilities are second to none and the support we get is the best. Most of the learning and development managers actually started as apprentices themselves.
“I’ve already learnt so many skills. We split our time learning in the classroom then applying what we’ve learnt working on gas and electrical metering equipment in the workshops. There’s even simulated living rooms and kitchens to make the training feel as real-life as possible.
“Getting this opportunity later in life has made me determined to succeed. I’ve a family to support and I just want to gain all the experience and skills I can and hopefully keep working myself up the career ladder once I qualify.
“My message to anyone thinking about an apprenticeship would be to go for it. No matter your age or background, it could be a good career path.
“At Scottish Gas, you get to train; learn from the best; earn a wage and gain life-long skills. It’s definitely the right career option for me.”
Scottish Gas director of operations for Smart, John Craig, said: “This year, we will recruit around 1,000 apprentices in smart metering across Britain.
“Alex and all our new recruits will mean we can help even more people in Scotland benefit from smart meters.”