Apprenticeship Inspiration

Inspiration and information for managers and would-be apprentices

In this section we’re building a library of stories about apprenticeships and how they are working with EDA businesses. The EDA Apprenticeship Service is available to all EDA businessess – that’s member wholesalers and affiliate manufacturers, service providers and solution providers.

These personal stories show the positive difference that apprentices and apprenticeships are making to businesses of all shapes and sizes. And the career paths that apprenticeships unlock – those former apprentices who are now running the show!

Whether you are thinking about joining the electrotechnical sector as an apprentice or you are a manager thinking about using the EDA Apprenticeship Service hopefully you’ll find this page helpful.

To read each story in full, use the click to expand button

The EDA Apprenticeship Service is managed by our partners at EDA Apprenticeships Plus

From apprentice to boss in 5 years, and now looking for his new apprentice

Meet Jack Lynch, Branch Manager, Holland House Electrical Co Ltd, Greenock
Jack Lynch of Holland House
"Show that you're hungry for advancement...." expand this section to read more of Jack's story

At just 25, Jack Lynch is the newly appointed Branch Manager in Greenock for wholesalers Holland House Electrical Co Ltd. This new job has been his goal from day one when he joined the business as an apprentice straight from college. Jack is recruiting an apprentice for his branch and he knows what to look for.

Jack shares his story.

“College was OK but I wanted a real job, independence and to earn a wage ” explains Jack. “I didn’t know anything about electrical wholesaling but Holland House offered me a job as a warehouse apprentice in Glasgow. From day one I was ambitious, and they gave me opportunities because they saw that I was keen and let me work in every department. Once you’re serving contractors and electricians over the trade counter, you really start to build up your product knowledge.

“When given the chance I was happy to jump on the phone and take on a sales role. You’ve got to be fearless and open to new things. I’ve worked in our Middlesbrough and Aberdeen branches along the way. With each move I was learning something new. In Aberdeen I was doing both telesales and going out and about to meet clients – being a sales rep. The Regional Manager and I worked closely together developing accounts and acquiring new ones, including a major house builder.

“In November 2020 they called me in to ask if I wanted to lead the Greenock branch, which is fantastic. There are four roles here: driver, storeperson, administrative support and me, as Branch Manager. Our driver has just left so that opens up an opportunity for an apprentice and I’ll be interviewing shortly. I’m looking for someone who can see the career potential in wholesaling, and who’s got that extra spark.

And what is Jack’s advice for any new recruit?

“Be patient, thick-skinned, always be on the look for something to do, and show that you’re hungry for advancement and a career. It worked for me!”

“I really want to stay in electrical wholesaling. I’ve come on leaps and bounds since starting this apprenticeship, and I am really enjoying it”

Meet Olly Thorburn, Electric Center, Newbury
Star apprentice Oliver Thorburn of Electric Center, Newbury
"I am looking forward to the next 7 months and becoming a fully qualified Trade Supplier" ... expand this section to read more of Olly's story

“Since starting the Trade Supplier apprenticeship, I have learnt so much more in 5 months than I anticipated,” explains Olly Thorburn, “My knowledge of the products we stock at Electric Center has boomed. It is a real confidence booster.”

Olly Thorburn is full of praise for the Trade Supplier experience. “I feel like this apprenticeship is the best thing I could have signed up for. I have learnt so much in a short time and feel really motivated, and I’ve even earned the title of Apprentice of the Month for October 2021 with my training provider which felt incredible.

“My days are varied: from picking and packing orders for customers, through to driving the van and making deliveries. I enjoy working with our contractor customers, ensuring they get the right products, and giving them the best experience possible.

“Apprenticeships could suit many people as it is a credible alternative to university. This experience has taught me a lot about myself, both learning on the job and with my tutor. My apprenticeship course work is relevant and thought-provoking and has 100% helped me with my role in the branch. I can see my progress and how relevant the Trade Supplier qualification is to my current job and future roles – I do want to move up the career ladder and this is a great start. I’ll have a Trade Supplier qualification to show that I know what I am doing.

“There’s no doubt that I’ve grown in confidence. I am looking forward to the next 7 months and becoming a fully qualified Trade Supplier, and hopefully working towards other qualifications in the future.”

The final word goes to Olly’s Manager, Colin Livesley, “Olly very quickly became an important member of the team. He is a great asset to the business: hard working, committed and enthusiastic.

From delivery driver at 17 to branch manager at 22

Meet Reece Hayes former apprentice and now branch boss
Reece Hayes Branch Manager at CEF Sandwich
"This job is about customer relationships"

Reece Hayes, 22, is Branch Manager for one of CEF’s centres in Kent. At 17 Reece was training as an electrician but could see a different career path ahead. He took a job as a delivery driver and started an apprenticeship studying wholesaling and merchant skills through the Electrical Distributors’ Association (EDA) Apprenticeship Service. He moved into sales roles at the trade counter, then to account management and, from 1 February 2021, into the top job in the branch.

“This job is about customer relationships,“ explains Reece, “When I was driving the van I was meeting customers every day and building the relationships that would serve me well when I was promoted to the trade counter and visiting them on site.

“I had a great manager who taught me well and when he moved up to another role I got the opportunity to lead the branch. In wholesaling there are many job roles available and opportunities that open up, and my electrician training served me well. You need a good product knowledge to help contractors get the right products for the job – first time, every time.”

“Her passion for the role is infectious!”

Meet Bobbi-Jo Tait, Trade Supplier Apprentice at CEF Gateshead
Star apprentice Bobbi-Jo Tait from CEF Gateshead
"Some women may feel that this is a man’s job but it’s empowering when you show that you can do it too!” expand this section to read more of Bobbi-Jo's story

Bobbi-Jo Tait, an apprentice at CEF’s Gateshead branch, has recently achieved Apprentice of the Month with The Learning Skills Partnership, one of the providers involved in the EDA Apprenticeships Service. Here Bobbi-Jo and her tutor talk about the apprenticeship and what’s next

“There is always something to do in this job,” explains Bobbi-Jo, who is studying a one year Trade Supplier Apprenticeship at Level 2, “I was planning to work in child care but when I started applying for jobs after college I wanted to try something new. I applied for this role via the National Apprenticeship Service and I came in to meet with Mike, the Branch Manager, and here I am. I really enjoy it because it’s busy, you’ve always got stuff to do, deliveries to check, stock to put away, and electricians and contractors to serve.

“Goods-in means I’m responsible for taking in deliveries, checking them, sorting them out and putting the products in exactly the right place in our stores. Everything has a home so that everyone can find it easily. This has helped me learn all about electrotechnical products and the team here has helped me understand how the different products are connected – what products go with what – and if I need help I just ask.

“I also put electrical product kits together for contractor customers that are working on a house-building project nearby. They send us specifications for the various house plots – 1 or 2 bedroom houses or bungalows, for example – and I put all the products they need together. It’s very important for their business that I get it right.”

Tutor, Karen Pranks, explains why Bobbi-Jo was given the title Apprentice of the Month

“She absolutely blew me away with her new-found confidence and passion for her role, and has taken on additional responsibility. Bobbi-Jo is always looking for ways to increase her knowledge in work. It was fantastic to hear the passion in her voice – it’s infectious!”

And what’s next for Bobbi-Jo after she completes her apprenticeship in October 2021?

“I’m hoping to become a Branch Assistant, that’s what I see myself doing. I might look at being a sales rep or manager but that’s way in the future. I’d encourage other women to join electrical wholesaling – go ahead, you don’t really know whether you like something unless you’ve tried it. Some women may feel that this is a man’s job but it’s empowering when you show that you can do it too!”

Apprenticeships help ABM Electrical grow their own pool of talent

ABM boss, Mark Ashworth, and their apprenticeship success
Photo of apprentice Joel Pastore at the ABM trade counter
"My advice to other business owners is give it a go." expand this section to read more of ABM's story

Mark Ashworth, MD at Stockport’s ABM Electrical Wholesale Ltd, members of the IBA buying group, has a few words of advice on apprenticeships:

“In wholesaling there’s never enough time and 101 excuses not to do something. But I can honestly say that taking on an apprentice through the EDA has been a much easier process than I had anticipated.

“My advice to other business owners is give it a go, tap into the expertise that comes with your EDA membership and reap benefits for your business.”

New recruit Joel Pastore, 18, (pictured above serving on the trade counter) became ABM’s first apprentice when he joined them in early 2018 through the EDA’s Apprenticeship Programme.

Here Mark picks up the story behind the new hire.

Talent for growth

“ABM is a family business and we have a long-term strategy for growth and that means we have to plan how to develop a talented team and apprenticeships are very much a part of that strategy.

“We’d like to grow our branch network, and for that we need a team we can rely on. I like the idea of being able to develop the ABM team our way and apprentices help us do that because it’s a combination of a qualification and on-the-job training alongside our established ABM team.

“The EDA service was easy: Louise at EDA Apprenticeships Plus was very helpful. They ran the recruitment campaign for us and we interviewed some good candidates, but Joel stood out. He was both well prepared and well presented. He didn’t need to be an expert in our business, he needed to show willing and that’s why he got the job.”

Career move

And the experience is just as good for the lucky candidate.

“I don’t have a favourite part of my job,” says Joel, “because I enjoy all of it.”

Joel is training for his 12 month apprenticeship for Warehousing and Storage Apprenticeship Level 2, one of the hundreds of apprenticeship options available in England.

Photo of Joel learning from other members of the ABM team

Above: MD, Mark Ashworth, helps Joel to develop his skills and knowledge.


Joel spotted the ABM opportunity on the National Apprenticeship Service website, where all apprenticeship vacancies in the England are published, while working for a shipping container business.

“I was looking for a career move and this opportunity just caught my eye. It was local to me and something different,” he explains.

“I start at 8am checking our stock levels in the warehouse, receiving deliveries and making up orders. I didn’t have much knowledge about electro-technical products when I first started but I’m learning fast. There is always someone to ask – I have mentors who I can approach. When I’ve finished my apprenticeship, I want to progress, to keep learning and moving up, perhaps into sales.”

Photo of Joel getting to grips with a customer's order

Above: Joel checks a customer’s order.