Zach beats off competition from more than 650 rivals to become NICEIC & ELECSA Electrical Apprentice of the Year

The NICEIC & ELECSA Electrical Apprentice of the Year is Zach Swift, 21, from Hellensburgh, Scotland, who is a second year apprentice with North Star Electrical Ltd. In a tightly fought, day-long final, held at Scolmore Group’s HQ in Tamworth, Zach triumphed over seven other finalists to win £2,000 worth of holiday vouchers. He was presented with his prize by Neil Baldwin, Chief Executive of Scolmore Group company, ESP  (see picture).

The runner up was Morne Louw, 31, from Barnsley, who won £750 worth of holiday vouchers, while third place went to Matt Jones, 32, from Bristol, who received a £250 holiday voucher.

All eight finalists received a new iPad, along with a Scolmore Van Pack, trophy and an NICEIC and ELECSA Goody Bag. The winner’s employer, Ian McCreadie also wins NICEIC or ELECSA registration for one year.

The competition judges were: industry stalwart, Tony Cable, who has spent 61 years in the electrical industry and who is now Product Ambassador for Scolmore Group; Darren Staniforth, Senior Technical President, NICEIC & ELECSA, and Jake Green, Trainee Marketing Engineer for NICEIC & ELECSA.Tony Cable and Billy Byrne are pictured with Electrical Wholesaler Editor, Debbie Eales, during the final day of the competition.


“Be very proud”

Billy Byrne, the electrician from TV’s DIY SOS was also on hand during the practical tests to encourage the eight finalists. During the awards presentation, he told them that they were all winners and that they could “stick their chests out and be very proud – and so can their employers”.

This year, more than 650 students entered the competition – an increase of more than 50% from last year.

Alan Wells, Technical Standards Director, Certsure, said: “The competition is now in its third year and the standards are improving each year. Through this competition, we want to recognise the talent of electrical apprentices and acknowledge all the good work they do. We want to show them what a rewarding and diverse career they can have within the electrical sector.”

During the award presentation – which took place at The Belfry Hotel & Resort in Sutton Coldfield – Mr Wells thanked Scolmore Group for partnering and hosting the event and for providing the prizes.

Competition stages

The competition, which was open to all level 3 electrical students, comprised three stages – an online exam, a two-hour written exam held at 10 locations across the UK and the final stage at Scolmore Group’s Tamworth HQ, which saw the eight finalists tackle a number of practical challenges over the course of a day. This was then followed by technical interviews with Tony Cable, Darren Staniforth and Jake Green.

Scolmore Group Marketing Director, Marie Parry, said: “Now in its third year the NICEIC and ELECSA Apprentice of the Year competition goes from strength to strength and we are proud to once more be the official partner.

“The competition continues to gather momentum and gain recognition throughout the industry, as students, lecturers, trainers and employers recognise the opportunity and value it brings to the apprentices making their way in the industry.

“As one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of electrical accessories, lighting, security and cable accessory solutions, and with nearly 30 years’ experience in the industry, we understand the importance of supporting the next generation of electricians.

“We will continue to play our part to help develop and reward them and will be looking to work more closely with colleges and training facilities to provide learning support and materials and hopefully, inspire more apprentices to get involved in future competitions.

“We are continually hearing about a skills shortage in the industry, but there is certainly no shortage of interest or lack of talent judging by the calibre of the students making it through the various stages of this competition.”

“Hands on”

Winner Zach Swift, said: “I always wanted a career that was hands on; something I could really get stuck into and go further up the career ladder. I only really got interested after a good friend invited me to work with him on a couple of jobs. That’s when I knew I wanted to be an electrician.”

Delighted with his win, Zach said that it will help to boost his career and he hopes to use his £2,000 worth of travel vouchers to visit Italy or America with his girlfriend.

“It’s been a lot of hard work to get here,” added Zach. “My employer allowed me to practice in the office.”

Zach’s boss, Ian McCreadie, said of his winning employee: “He’s been brilliant. He’s very good with customers and I get great feedback. When I interviewed him for the job, he really stood out.”

Zach said he entered the competition to boost his confidence and to challenge his knowledge and ability.

Commenting on the competition, Judge, Darren Staniforth said: “At lunchtime, we thought this is going to go right down to the wire, with the standard that they were performing at. What an amazing job they have done today. Their ability is outstanding! It gave us a bit of a headache as they were all so good.”

Pictured below: Some of the finalists taking part in the practical challenges in the specially created workshop at Scolmore Group’s Tamworth HQ.