Energy firm hails contribution of its first ever Modern Apprentice

08/03/2024
GMG Energy Apprentice Finlay

THE “excellent progress” made by the first Modern Apprentice to join a Sutherland-based renewable energy business in 2022 has persuaded the company’s owners that another apprentice vacancy may be created.

GMG Energy of Halladale hired 18-year-old Finlay Mackay from Melvich, Portskerra in Sutherland two years ago to undertake an apprenticeship in mechanical maintenance engineering.

And now, according to GMG Energy Director, Malcolm Morrison, Finlay’s progress and positive attitude to his work has been ‘excellent’.

“Having an apprentice like Finlay in our business has proven to be a very pleasing experience. It’s great to have someone around who is always positive and happy since his attitude is infectious.

“We are all enjoying seeing a young person taking an opportunity and developing and growing. We try also to make sure he understands that he is making a valuable contribution.

“As we celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week [4-8 March 2024] I would say to all employers, take your time to appoint the right person and help them on their journey in life as the rewards you receive from them are very positive. And, yes, we will take on a further apprentice if we identify the right individual.”

Educated at Melvich Primary School and Farr High School in Bettyhill, Finlay studied fabrication and welding at the Thurso campus of UHI North Highland College, before landing the opportunity to undertake his apprenticeship with GMG Energy.

He said: “I feel my apprenticeship is going great so far. I am learning a lot and I’m focused on improving my skills across a wide variety of machines and vehicles on site. I am currently working on the refurbishment and repair of a chip fed biomass boiler.

“At GMG Energy no two days are the same; I love the variety of work that I do. It’s also a lovely place to work through the summer.”

And should other young people consider becoming an apprentice?

Finlay said: “Go for it. Getting paid to learn is brilliant. It’s a good way to develop your skills and knowledge.

“I study through Thurso College but I do all the work in the evenings at home, I have to build up a portfolio that covers the criteria of my apprenticeship which I will then submit to the college online. 

“I will finish up with a SVQ Level 3 qualification in mechanical maintenance but I am hoping to do an HNC after that.” 

Established in 2016, GMG Energy operates a state-of-the-art sawmill on a farm in the Halladale Strath between Tongue and Thurso, producing kiln-dried logs, chip and sawdust for consumers and wholesalers.

It makes door to door deliveries throughout the north Highlands and manufacture timber products for agricultural businesses, builders and consumers. It also supplies bark for garden centres, sawdust for livestock and dried chip for supply to local businesses and councils.

GMG Energy is committed to replacing every log of timber it uses, planting about 20,000 trees in 2021. As a result, businesses across the North and the Islands can reduce their carbon footprint by sourcing locally. The business recently won the best natural capital project at the Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference (SHREC) Awards 2022.

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