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Modern Apprentice Hope shines a light on green energy

Forth Ports Hope Ralston 114

Switched-on Hope Ralston was inspired to apply for a Modern Apprenticeship in Engineering Maintenance (Electrical) after she studied manufacturing engineering at college.  

She was the first female engineering apprentice at Forth Ports, in Grangemouth, Stirlingshire, and soon secured her place as an integral member of the engineering team there. 

Hope, 22, has supported a number of green energy initiatives at the site, and made a significant contribution to a project that will cut Forth Port’s CO2 emissions, bringing net energy savings of 10%. 

She took an active lead by learning the skills, knowledge and capabilities to help with the design, delivery and sign-off works associated with it. 

Hope contributes to upholding Forth Port’s energy management ISO accreditation, playing an active role in energy saving projects. 

She has also supported her employer’s goals by taking part in other sustainability initiatives, including reducing the energy consumption of high mast lighting and reducing emissions via the implementation of HVO fuel. 

Hope, of Falkirk, Stirlingshire, said: “I spoke to a careers adviser from Skills Development Scotland who talked about Modern Apprenticeships. 

I knew I wanted to earn while I was learning on the job, and working towards a qualification at the same time, so it sounded ideal. 
Doing the Modern Apprenticeship really improved my communication skills and my confidence and I’m very much part of the team at Forth Ports. 

Hope took part in the Grangemouth Fuel Change Challenge to improve her understanding of the energy sources her industry may use in the future and how Forth Ports could transition to renewable power. 

She developed a blueprint for reducing energy used in street lighting on site by switching to LED lighting and using a turbine driven partly by proxy wind created by passing HGVs at the port. 

She added:

Getting involved in the Fuel Change Challenge meant I could see the positive difference we were making and sustainability is now very much built into my thinking in my everyday work.

Hope’s passion for the Fuel Change project, and her personal development as a result of being involved, also inspired Forth Ports to focus on providing further opportunities for sustainable learning. 

Modern Apprenticeships are jobs open to anyone aged 16 and over who wants to work, learn and earn. 

Modern Apprentices spend most of their time learning in the workplace while being supported by a local college or specialist training provider to gain an industry recognised qualification. 

Forth Ports Limited Learning & Development Manager Natalie Dalgleish said:

Hope came to us as a shy young apprentice and the change in her has been remarkable. 
She has grasped every opportunity with both hands.  
The Modern Apprenticeship has allowed her to flourish and grow into a confident, skilled individual who is happy presenting an idea to the Executive Board.  
We are really proud to have been part of her learning journey.

Forth Valley College Assistant Client Manager Chris Nisbet said:

Hope switched disciplines to study engineering, got ahead of where she needed to be and took on the Fuel Change Challenge as well. 
She exceeded expectations and quickly stood out as being head and shoulders above the other apprentices.

Hope’s achievements have led to her being a finalist in the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, in the Supporting Net Zero Apprentice of the Year category sponsored by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland. 

The winners will be revealed at the awards, organised by Skills Development Scotland and set to take place during Scottish Apprenticeship Week from 6-10 March. Find out more about the award finalists and the event by visiting: