GMG Energy of Halladale in Sutherland has marked a milestone in its growth with the appointment of its first modern apprentice.
An innovative, environmentally conscious business whose mission is to provide customers in the North with much-needed timber-based products in a sustainable manner, the company has confirmed the apprenticeship of 18 year old Finlay Mackay from Melvich, Portskerra in Sutherland.
Educated at Melvich Primary School and Farr High School in Bettyhill, Finlay studied fabrication and welding at the Thurso campus of UHI North Highland College, before landing the opportunity to undertake his apprenticeship in mechanical maintenance engineering with GMG Energy.
He said: “My tutor at college told me that this apprenticeship opportunity was about to come up and I jumped at the chance to apply. After a week’s trial I was offered the position.
“Together with my employer, I will be learning my trade over the next three years alongside UHI North Highland College, in Thurso, but because I have already done a year at college I will not need to go into class so can build a portfolio with evidence from my practical work that will be completed on site. So far, I am loving it and it’s great to feel part of a small and valued team.”
Founder and owner of GMG Energy, Malcolm Morrison, said: “I knew after his week’s trial that Finlay was the right person for us. Before his apprenticeship gets formally under way in September he has been working with us at our sawmill every day and occasionally helping out with some engineering tasks.
“We want him to enjoy himself while learning his trade and we have high hopes for his progress and ultimate success. Our most important assets are the people working in our business. They give us productivity, their time and commitment. Without them, this business would not be successful and profitable.”
Liam Sutherland of UHI North Highland College said: “Malcolm enquired directly about finding an apprentice and after a discussion to find out what he wanted, a placement was set up.
“Malcolm is great to deal with and is committed to investing in youth and the local area. I visited his operation and was not sure, initially, how an engineering apprentice would be required at a sawmill, but it all made it sense after visiting since Finlay’s role will involve servicing all the machinery on site.
“Malcolm was going to advertise but after our conversation we explained there was no need and a significant reduced risk by hiring an apprentice using our services.”
Established in 2016, GMG Energy operates a state-of-the-art sawmill on a farm in the Halladale Strath between Tongue and Thurso, producing kiln-dried logs, chip and sawdust for consumers and wholesalers.
It makes door to door deliveries throughout the north Highlands and manufacture timber products for agricultural businesses, builders and consumers. It also supplies bark for garden centres, sawdust for livestock and dried chip for supply to local businesses and councils.
GMG Energy is committed to replacing every log of timber it uses, planting about 20,000 trees in 2021. As a result, businesses across the North and the Islands can reduce their carbon footprint by sourcing locally. The business recently won the best natural capital project at the Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference (SHREC) Awards 2022.