NG Bailey’s Matthew Pickering wins trip to Australia with the JIB Apprentice Exchange Programme

Matthew Pickering, of NG Bailey, has been announced as the winner of the JIB Apprentice Exchange Programme and will spend six weeks living and working as an electrician in Brisbane, Australia. The JIB relaunched its Apprentice Exchange Programme last year after it was suspended in 2020 following the outbreak of Covid.

As part of the trip, Matthew will also visit the contractors’ association, union and leading training providers to get a better understanding of how the industry works and compile a report on his experiences of the electrical industry in Queensland, Australia.  

Matthew took up an electrical apprenticeship having enjoyed the blend of electrical and mechanical engineering in his previous job as a technical support manager for an espresso machine importer. Matthew explained: “Although I felt I was a good technician, whenever I came into contact with other formally trained electrical engineers or electricians who had transitioned into working with vending equipment and espresso machines I was always impressed at their breadth of knowledge in the field.”

Upon realising he wanted to broaden his base competence, Matthew completed a Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installations before beginning his apprenticeship. He continued: “As time went on, I felt that I wanted to have the level of understanding I saw amongst my more formally trained peers. I saw the strengths of a complete apprenticeship and how it benefited others in both the practical and theoretical aspects of the job.”

Funding for the Apprentice Exchange Programme is provided by the JIB Skills Development Fund, which will cover the cost of flights, accommodation, wages and associated costs. The JIB Skills Development Fund provides financial assistance for courses for those undertaking further education and training in the electrical industry. JIB member companies can benefit from grants towards training their workforce, upskilling and helping to make their business more competitive and enter new and emerging markets.

Richard Clarke, Chair of the JIB Skills Development Fund Trustees, said: “The JIB Apprentice Exchange Programme offers a fantastic opportunity to enhance not only your electrotechnical career but also to experience and learn about life as an electrician in another country. Matthew will act as an ambassador for the UK electrical contracting industry, learning about and sharing best practice and experiences for the benefit of the electrical community internationally.”

Karon van der Heiden, Apprenticeship Development Partner at NG Bailey, commented: “Matthew’s goal has been to complete his apprenticeship to the highest standard, keeping himself accountable for progression. Throughout his apprenticeship Matthew has been keen to absorb knowledge from the more experienced electricians on site, never afraid to ask questions, to be challenged and stretched to better his technical skills and knowledge. Credit also goes to Oana Apostol who worked closely with Matthew as his Workforce Manager.”

Ahead of his trip, Matthew said: “I’m very much looking forward to seeing how our Australian counterparts train and maintain standards amongst the working electricians. There will no doubt be lots of cultural similarities so it’ll be interesting to see how we compare. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I’m excited to make the most of it.”

Andy Reakes, Secretary to the JIB Skills Development Fund, said: “We wish Matthew the best on his Australian adventure and look forward to hearing all about his experiences and lessons learnt upon his return.”