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

Meet Alfie Cotton, Eyre & Elliston Holdings Ltd, Christchurch

Watch this video to hear from Alfie and his manager, Jerry Neal

An Apprenticeship Programme, the Kempston Controls Way

Tom Jones, Channel Partner Director, explains how The Kempston Controls Apprenticeship Programme, a structured business-wide training scheme, delivers excellent results for both the new recruits and the organisation.
Kempston Controls Apprenticeship Programme
Apprentices work in every department during their training... expand this section to read more about Kempston Controls programme

The whole rationale behind newly launched Kempston Controls Apprenticeship Programme, is to provide “a robust training programme” for new entrants to the business and to ensure that they want to stay and progress.  All too often, apprenticeship training is something that managers and apprentices try to “fit in” around full-time roles. We believe that the training should be a priority and it should not take second place.  It makes business sense to do this, to invest in training from the outset and ensure we have high quality, informed staff. 

Recruiting new talent 

At the moment we use the EDA Apprenticeship Service to help us to find and recruit new apprentices.  Alongside this we have started to develop a closer relationship with our local schools and colleges and hope that in the future this will be where we source our apprentices from.  Our own apprentices help us to run career days; they talk about what they do and what they are learning which in turn encourages others to want to join us. 

The Kempston Controls’ Apprenticeship Programme is based around the Level 2 Customer Service apprenticeship.  We wanted to make use of the Trade Supplier apprenticeship but as our organisation does not have a physical trade counter we were unable to do so. 

We currently have 5 apprentices on the Programme, and hope to double our intake in 2024. To ensure there is a good fit between the apprentices and our business we offer a 2-week “cooling off period” to give both parties the chance to check that this is the job and the organisation for them.   

Structured Off The Job training  

Following organisational induction, where the apprentice meets the Apprentice Ambassadors (departmental mentors), they start their first placement, but every day, regardless of the department, they finish work at 3pm so they can concentrate the next two hours on their learning activities such as their apprenticeship course work, EDA Product Knowledge Modules, and other training.  

If they need to study English or Maths alongside their apprenticeship, they are assigned specific mentors from within the business who help to put those skills into context. 

Talent spotting: a training placement in every department  

Our apprentices work in every department during their training. They develop a good knowledge of our how business works, and can find out what they enjoy, and where they might work after they have finished their apprenticeship: 

  • 3 months in stores/warehouse 
  • 3 months in procurement 
  • 4-6 weeks doing quotations (including web chats and telephone calls) 
  • 3 months in technical 
  • 2 months in operations 
  • 4 days with the external sales team 

They have regular meetings with line managers and Apprentice Ambassadors during their placements and an in-depth handover takes place between line managers as they move from one department to another ensuring that any specific needs or development are highlighted. 

As part of their apprenticeship, they are required to complete 3 EDA Product Knowledge Modules in the first year.  As an incentive to keep them learning, they are given a payment on achievement, depending on their grade – Pass, Credit, or Distinction.  They are encouraged to complete more modules during the second year of their employment. 


Every apprentice has access to all our manufacturer training activities, regardless of how technical that might be. For example, they recently attended a full day’s training on Industrial Safety and, whilst we know that they may not understand everything they are hearing, we want them to get used to the terminology, the products and to feel included.  We plan field trips to local theme parks to see the equipment we sell in situ!   

When they have completed their apprenticeship a decision as to where they start their career is made.  This is based on where their skills are best suited.  Learning does not stop there, however, and they are encouraged to take the next step – maybe another apprenticeship or higher-level skills such as finance. 

Main photo caption left to right: Paige Bollen, Apprentice; Ashley Paley, Internal Technical Support Engineer; Lindsey Jones, Customer Orders & UK Returns Team Leader; Kieron Behan, Apprentice; Jenny Salmon, Procurement Manager; Judith Rowntree, Group HR & Training Manager; Nikki Shand. HR Assistant.

Those in the main picture that are not apprentices are apprentice ambassadors or organisers of the scheme. 

“Bursting with ideas and energy”: former apprentice, Lauren, is named rising star

Meet Lauren Pollitt, Stearn Electric Co Ltd, Manchester
Meet Lauren Pollitt, winner of a Rising Star Award 2022
Meet Lauren Pollitt winner of a Rising Star Award 2022 ... expand this section to read more of Lauren's story

Meet Lauren Pollitt, former Business Administration Apprentice and now Inventory Controller at Stearn Electric Co Ltd’s Manchester Branch, who has been recognised with a Rising Star Award 2022 at the Electrical Industries Charity (EIC) Powerball.

Lauren, who was recruited to her role through the EDA Apprenticeship Service, talks about the award, her career in the sector and her hopes for the future.

“It was great to be recognised with this Award and when I started my apprenticeship just 3 years ago, I had no idea this was ahead. I joined Stearn in Manchester as a Business Administration Apprentice at Level 3. To be honest, I should have done this straight from school as it’s a great way to learn and train,” explains Lauren.

“My timing wasn’t great though because I joined just before Covid and was put on furlough for 7 weeks during the first lockdown. With some time on my hands, I decided to teach myself how to do spreadsheets and this has helped me in my current role in our purchasing team,” explains Lauren.

“I know that if I want something and put the work in, then I will get there. Stearn is like a family where everybody supports each other.”

Lauren’s boss, Manager, Kate Booth, is full of praise for her star,

“I just had to nominate Lauren for this award because she is bursting with ideas and enthusiasm, always looking for the next project. She has more energy than anyone I have ever seen!

“Lauren has changed the buying process completely, moving it from a paper-based manual process to a spreadsheet-based system with a huge amount of information now at our fingertips.  As soon as she completed her apprenticeship, we quickly promoted her into this full-time Inventory Controller role.

“Unusually for the electrical wholesale sector, the majority of the team here in Manchester are women and it’s great to see someone at the start of their career really thriving and enjoying her work. We couldn’t be more proud of Lauren.”

All EDA businesses have access to the Association’s Apprenticeship Service which is run and managed by EDA Apprenticeship Service.

From Apprentice to Administrative and Account Assistant

Meet Saffron Knott a Business Administration Apprentice from EU Fire Safety and EIC Rising Star 2022
"Show that you're hungry for advancement...." expand this section to read more of Saffron's story

“I want to stay in this industry, I could build a career”

Saffron Knott, a Business Administration Apprentice at EU Fire Safety, has recently attended the EIC Powerball after being named as one of the winners of their Rising Star Award.  Here she talks about how she joined the industry and her future.

“I was studying Sociology at University, just starting my second year when my eating disorder took over my life.  I was admitted into the Priory for intensive lifesaving treatment and four months later, discharged with a long road of ahead of me.  I didn’t think University was the right place for me to go back to, so looked for an apprenticeship.”

“Unfortunately, many employers were not willing to take a chance with my medical history, but Mark Booth at EU Fire Security was and I joined the team in March 2022.”

“Within the first months it was clear to see she was something special”  said Mark Booth, General Manager at EU Fire Security.

“She gets into work early, is excited about how she makes a difference and has quickly become a ‘go-to’ for work support and advice across the administrative, buying and marketing teams, developing processes across each of these departments during her short tenure within them.”

Mark used the EDA Apprenticeship Service run in partnership with EDA Apprenticeships Plus.

“The apprenticeship is a great way for me to learn.  I am so well supported by colleagues at EU Fire Security as well as by EDA Apprenticeships Plus and my training provider, The Learning Skills Partnership.  As a university student I was always financially poor and learned only theory, no real hands-on skills. I love moving from department to department learning as I go.  So far purchasing is my favourite.”

And what’s next for Saffron after she completes her apprenticeship?

“I would like to stay at EU Fire and Safety or at least within the sector.  I didn’t realise that this sector existed; I can now have a career and not just a job.”

“It feels like the Sky is the limit”

Meet Jordon Tuck a Supply Chain Warehouse Operative Apprentice from Termination Technology and EIC Rising Star 2022
"Wherever he ends up he will do well" ... expand this section to read more of Jordon's story

Jordon Tuck, a Supply Chain Warehouse Apprentice at Termination Technology, has recently attended the EIC Powerball after being named as one of the winners of their Rising Star Award.  Here he talks about how he joined the industry and his future.

“I planned on joining the Police Force but got caught up in the Covid situation.  With nothing to do, I joined Termination Technology as part of the Government’s Kick Start Programme.  I went to work in the warehouse and really enjoyed my time there.” said Jordon.

“Jordon was a really nice lad and fitted in with the Termination Technology team from the moment he started.  He stayed the full 6 months of the Kick Start programme and then accepted an apprenticeship position.  He is almost at the end of his apprenticeship and I believe that the sky is the limit for Jordon” said Steve Parry, Commercial Director at Termination Technology.

Steve used the EDA Apprenticeship Service run in partnership with EDA Apprenticeships Plus.

“I saw the nomination form for the Rising Star Award the week before the event.  The email saying that Jordan had won arrived the day before.  From that point it was all systems go to get him a dinner suit, train tickets and accommodation!” said Steve

And did Jordon enjoy the event?

“I had the best time with my fellow winners.  I can’t wait to repeat the experience.”

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.