Hear from our Electrical Engineer Lecturer: Andrew Wakley

After 27 years in the Electrical industry, a chance encounter led Andrew Wakley to a career teaching in Further Education, something he always thought was not for him.

I never planned to teach in further education (FE). As a 45 year old, I spent the first years of my career in the construction industry – initially as an Engineering Apprentice before finding an Electrical Apprentice job for an Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Company, it was during my time here that I became a qualified ‘sparky’ electrician working many hours up and down the country and even across the water in Ireland and aboard. 

In May 2001 I started up my own Electrical business which I still run today after 23 years. During the last two decades my training has been ongoing in many different areas including plumbing and heating, air conditioning (HVAC), Security systems and CCTV Camera to name just a few, but it was a chance encounter while still working full time for my business that set me on a new career path. Something completely different to what I had ever expected. 

I got chatting to my NICEIC Inspector during one of my annual visits; the next I knew; I was sat before a panel at Grantham College for an interview. At first, I thought it seemed surreal, however, they appeared impressed with my presentation, and I was employed as a college lecturer in the Engineering department for electrical installation.

The engineering workshops at Grantham College are a brilliant place for students to learn the skills you need for the trade with hands on techniques. The college offers a wide range of courses giving students a broad range of education and training in key areas such as Mechanical, Production, Electrical and Maintenance Engineering, Electrical Installations, Electronics, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Rapid Prototyping Technology, Welding and Robotics.

Like many FE Teachers / Lecturers, I feel I can offer first-hand industry experience, which is proving invaluable, giving a wealth of real-life references to help prepare learners for the realities of the working world. 

As a teacher, the ability to provide industry-related examples to the students helps to bring the textbooks and theory to life. For example, when I am teaching electrical installation, I canrelate the practical sessions to something they may be familiar with at work, like wiring 3 phase machinery or setting up electrical systems in a new office building. It helps the students visualise the work much more clearly.

Teaching in FE is a humbling experience. It’s not just about imparting technical skills, but about nurturing the curiosity and potential of each student. Witnessing their growth in knowledge and technical abilities is genuinely heart-warming. Every question they ask, every hurdle they overcome, adds to a sense of accomplishment that goes beyond personal success.

Balancing my business, my commitment to the Catholic Church and now with teaching responsibilities has been a lesson in itself. It’s a reminder that learning never stops and that staying connected to the industry and local community enriches my teachings. This connection ensures that what I bring to the classroom is not only grounded in real-world experience but also resonates with the evolving demands of our trade.

To my fellow professionals considering a transition to teaching, I would like to say: there’s an indescribable joy in sharing your knowledge. It’s not just about teaching; it’s about contributing to the industry in a new and meaningful way. The kindness, friendliness, and grace you extend to your students today shapes the professionals they become tomorrow.

Reflecting on this journey, I feel a deep sense of gratitude. There’s a unique satisfaction in knowing that your experiences are helping to mould skilled, thoughtful tradespeople for the future. In teaching, I have found a way to not only give back to the industry I love but also to be a part of a larger story – the continuous cycle of learning and growth.

Andrew Wakley

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