From hairdresser to gas installer - striking out on a new career path to help the family business

Making a career change later in life can seem daunting, but for one woman living up in the Highlands in Scotland, a bold decision to flout convention has turned out to be a step in a very positive new direction.

Twenty nine year-old Morven Rennie is half-way through training as a gas engineer at Moray College on LCL Awards’ MLP (Managed Learning Programme). It’s a brand new direction for Morven who is thoroughly enjoying what she’s learning and excited about being able to work alongside her husband, supporting the family business:

“My husband is a heating engineer and has his own company. He is extremely busy and asked me a while back whether I wanted to train up and qualify as a gas engineer to assist with the break-downs, servicing and repairs. I thought, “why not?”  After a year or so helping him on jobs and getting experience I decided to take the plunge and signed up to a training course Moray College.

“When I left school I trained as a hairdresser, and worked as a stylist for about five years, but then I got fed up and started working at my mum’s business, Safety Training Solutions, arranging and managing health and safety training courses and Modern Apprenticeships in construction.  I guess that might have got me thinking about making a career change.

“The course at Moray College has been great. I’ve really enjoyed learning new things and finding out how appliance and heating systems work. My tutor, Jim MacKinnon, has many, many years of knowledge and experience and is extremely encouraging.

“I started the programme in October 2020 and had to cover a lot of theory work at home because of the COVID lockdown, but as gas engineers are classified as key workers I was able to get out and about, to gain practical experience on the job when I couldn’t get in to college. I was lucky.  Throughout the course Jim has been very supportive and great at responding to emails when I’ve been stuck on the theory.

Hands-on learning

“Now we’re back at college again, it’s great to be in the workshops, where we’re able to practice on many different types of boilers and systems, ranging from the very old to the very new. Although it’s more than fifty miles from home, I chose Moray College over my local college, as the trainers at Moray have a track record for excellence and I wanted to train with the best!

“Soon I’ll be starting on my work-experience proper, building up a portfolio to demonstrate my practical experience ready for my final assessment. Luckily for me, I’ll be working alongside my husband in the family business.

“Our customers think it’s amazing that I’m getting trained up and they’re looking forward to seeing me out on the jobs!  Their enthusiasm has given me a real boost as there aren’t many women heating engineers – especially in the Highlands - and I’m pleased to taking up something that’s really useful.

"There’s such a shortage of qualified engineers in the industry so it makes real sense to be working in a field where I can make a difference.”

Jim Mackinnon, Deputy Head of Curriculum Construction at Moray College has been impressed with Morven’s progress on the course:

“Morven has demonstrated that whatever a person’s career background may be, if they have the motivation and desire to become a Gas Engineer, then it can be achieved”

“The LCL Awards MLP route has proved to be the perfect path to a career change for Morven. The combination of on-the-job, in-college and on-line training has seen Morven’s skills develop at an impressive rate and will leave her well prepared for the future.”

“I’m sure that Morven’s husband, Dave, is looking forward to working with his new Gas Engineer!”

To find out more about the LCL Awards accredited MLP that Moray College offers those keen to embark on a career in gas engineering, please click here.