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Nescol award glory for apprentice electician David

By Alan Beresford

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AN apprentice electrician with a Buckie firm is through to the finals of a prestigious national competition.

Gateway Control Systems apprentice David Watt is congratulated on his Nescol Apprentice of the Year award and place in the Scottish finals by boss Sonya Warren. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Gateway Control Systems apprentice David Watt is congratulated on his Nescol Apprentice of the Year award and place in the Scottish finals by boss Sonya Warren. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

David Watt (22), from Gardenstown, who is a final year apprentice with Gateway Control Systems (GCS) based at Slackhead, just outside Buckie has made it to the Scottish heat of the UK-wide SkillELECTRIC competition.

Mr Watt qualified for the heat after first being unanimously declared Apprentice of the Year at North East Scotland College (Nescol), which he attends, before undertaking an online, interactive app-based task which is timed and tests skills around health and safety, inspection and testing, regulations, electrical principles and installation practices and procedures for SkillELECTRIC.

This is not the first time Mr Watt has tasted glory in the field of apprentice awards – in 2020 he was unveiled as Nescol's Scottish Electrical Charitable Trust Second Stage Apprentice of the Year.

His victory this time around was down to the high standards achieved throughout his time at college and his progress on site.

He said: "It feels magic to have won Apprentice of the Year and progressing in the competition is even better.

"To be honest it's a bit scary to think I'm through to the heat stage of a national competition although I'm really chuffed.

"I'm in the final year of my apprenticeship and I've really enjoyed it. There's a good squad of boys here at Gateway and it's great going to work, there's a good craic.

"I've had the chance to see and work on lots of different types of systems during my time here, which is great experience."

Mr Watt is set to sit his Final Integrated Competence Assessment (FICA) qualification, success here seeing him become a time-served electrician.

Congratulating Mr Watt on his achievements to date was Sonya Warren who, along with husband Alan, run GCS.

"We're absolutely delighted for David, not just being named Apprentice of the Year but advancing to the heat stage of a UK-wide competition" she said.

"It's rewarding not only to see David himself achieve this standard for the second time but also as a company to have the standard of the training we give our employees recognised as one of the best in Britain.

"I think it's wonderful to see local talent being recognised in this way. Young people leaving the area after they leave school has been an issue for many years but I believe if you train people locally they're more likely to stay locally after their training finishes.

"At Gateway we've always had a commitment not just to apprenticeships but also work experience with school students and, more recently, the Kickstart scheme. It's so important to let young people have hands-on experience, especially as what we do here at Gateway is very different from what domestic electricians do."

Mr Watt will now head for Forth Valley College in Falkirk for the Scottish heat on Tuesday, June 14 where he will battle it out with other hopefuls to complete a challenging practical task. Success at this stage will see him go on to represent Scotland at the UK final and, potentially head for WorldSkills Lyon 2024.

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