Case study - Dave, electrician

Dave Watson

I’ve only been with Sovereign for a few years, but I’ve been a sparky since I left school. I’ve had loads of apprentices in my time, I think it’s something we take a bit more for granted in the trades than you might if you worked only in an office. Practical skills can’t be learned sitting at a computer. 

I would say it comes pretty naturally to me to teach people, and I firmly believe that an apprentice does not learn best by watching. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the mentor is the one who should be watching.

That’s not to say I’m going to throw people in at the deep end with no instruction. I’ll talk them through a task step by step as they do it a couple of times. The third time I let them have a go on their own. If they mess it up, I’m there to fix it. Or they can ask me as they go along.

I find working for Sovereign gives me a better work life balance than I had before. I had my own business for a while, and I worked on building sites for many years. The last job I did before coming here was wiring an aircraft hangar ready for the big fighter jets. But it was early starts and late finishes. I felt like I was missing out on family life.

Now I’ve moved into management, which is another new and interesting step for me. It’s my first supervisor role – I’m looking after all the electrical compliance certification for the East region. I always tell my team: a plumbing fault you can see, gas you can smell, but electricity is invisible so we have to be doubly careful. I stress over and over again that we need to make sure the certificates are done properly - otherwise that’s our residents’ lives in danger - and me in court in front of a judge.

I’ve been really lucky in my mentoring experiences, and being part of the interview days here was a great experience too. I knew what I was looking out for in people - not so much their ability, but a kind of eagerness - their character, what were they like to talk to. Being a sparky takes years to learn, so you’ve really got to want it.