Anna MacFadyen, MA in Engineering - LifeScan

Tuesday, 6th March 2018

Anna MacFadyen (19) from the Black Isle is currently on a four-year apprenticeship in engineering with LifeScan Scotland in Inverness.


She spent the first year of her apprenticeship in college full-time, studying towards her NC in Electrical Engineering, developing practical skills and knowledge.

Her studies were supplemented with workshop days, where she made items out of metal using various tools and machines. She also got the chance to work on electrical equipment, learning how to wire circuits, conduct PAT testing to make sure electrical appliances are working safely and understanding how conduits (channels for conveying water or other fluid) work.  

There were also days spent in the classroom learning the theory behind electrical engineering processes as well as developing practical electrical skills including testing electrical circuits and understanding LOTO procedures – an important safety procedure which is used to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off.  

Anna is now working full time in the company, doing rotations in each value stream as well as attending college to achieve her HNC in Engineering Systems as well as the SVQ3 in Engineering Maintenance.  

Describing a day in the life of an engineering apprentice, Anna said: “I come in for morning handover, check my emails and then go to breakdowns with engineers to help fix the machines. Sometimes one of the cells will be down for a full day to carry out maintenance – and this involves cleaning the machine, replenishing oils, looking for wear on parts and replacing if necessary. I’ll also write up logs for my SVQ work before attending the evening handover.”

Anna enjoys getting out and about, and not being tied to a desk to all day, adding: “One of the best aspects of my job is being hands-on with machinery and using my problem solving skills to overcome issues.”  

A career in engineering was always on Anna’s radar – and an apprenticeship was the most effective way for her to enter the industry as soon as possible. Gaining qualifications while learning on the job was attractive to Anna, and for her, was a path more suited than university.  

Being able to earn while learning means Anna doesn’t have to worry about a student loan, and she feels it will be easier to get a job at the end of her apprenticeship having already had work experience in the role.

And Anna’s advice for school leavers? “Do as much research as you can ahead of the interview, if you show interest in the company you will stand out.   “Don’t be scared to apply even if you don’t have much experience in that industry, employers look for interest and passion as much as they do knowledge.”