Top instructor Greg goes from apprentice to renewables role model
RI Cruden’s first apprentice is now supporting the next generation of talent for the renewable energy firm.
Having joined the business at 17, Greg Matheson now holds the role of RI Cruden’s Renewables Installations Manager and Apprentice Coordinator and has become an invaluable support for new starts.
As the Highlands based firm has grown and taken on more talent - there are currently 18 Modern and Graduate Apprentices out of a staff of 55 - the apprentices needed a go-to person who was not one of the company’s directors.
Greg explained: “Young people can be reserved around managers or directors. The apprentices find it easier to come and speak to me any time they need a wee bit of help or advice.”
Greg’s colleague Daniel Ross said: “Greg is the ideal role model for the next generation of apprentices. Having been with the company for 13 years he has become the company’s leading expert on heat pumps. He embodies the fact that, if you come into the company, pay attention and work hard, you are going to get the rewards for it.”
Having been there himself, Greg can relate to new apprentices and is the perfect person to guide them in what the company calls “the Cruden way”.
The apprentices get a grounding in all the different disciplines required for installing and maintaining heat pumps, solar panels and other renewable products.
Greg, from Kiltarlity, near Inverness, sets targets for each apprentice and makes sure they are delivering consistently high quality work.
He’s also busy behind the scenes making the apprentices’ college work more relevant, covering all the skills they need to work in a fast-changing industry.
Also on Greg’s to-do list is increasing the number of young women joining the business. He is delighted that both of RI Cruden's current first year apprentices are female. He said: “Our young female apprentices were the best candidates and they’ve both settled in really well.”
Outreach is part of Greg’s job, heading to schools and telling pupils about the opportunities in renewables within construction. Greg said: “I’m always trying to promote the business, keeping an eye out for local youngsters looking to get into the industry.”
Greg has also helped rethink the apprenticeship interview process for RI Cruden, to give the company a better idea of how a potential apprentice would fit in. Greg recognises that a successful apprenticeship programme starts with targeted recruitment.
Greg explained: “I don’t want a youngster to sit in a suit and tie while I interrogate them. So, we’ve tried to make the apprenticeship recruitment process a little less formal and more practical. We set practical plumbing and pipe work tests to see how they perform. Can they follow instructions? Do they ask questions?
“The directors and I think this is the best way of making young people comfortable and it is a lot more thorough than in the past. Part of our business model is to create our own engineers, we need to put the time and effort into apprenticeship recruitment.”
I’m always trying to promote the business, keeping an eye out for local youngsters looking to get into the industry.
Renewables Installations Manager and Apprentice Coordinator, Scottish Apprenticeship Awards nominee
A shinty international as well as a top notch renewables engineer, Greg is the perfect mix of approachable and aspirational.
His efforts have earned him a place in the final of the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards within the Instructor of the Year category.
Daniel stressed: “Greg’s able to take what he’s done since he joined the company straight from school and pass that on to the next generation. His nature allows him to empathise really well with the apprentices coming through.”
Modest Greg put it differently. “I enjoy seeing apprentices grow from their first day on the job. They are the same as I was, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. To guide them through that process and see them develop from nothing to trusted engineers is very special.”
Find out more
The winner of the Apprentice Instructor of the Year category will be revealed during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which takes place from 4 to 8 March.