BRIGHT sparks could help one Scottish sawmill save around £400,000 each year by introducing an electric-powered mobile side-loader fleet. 

A team of apprentices at BSW Timber's Fort William site came up with the idea of using the vehicles in a bid to cut carbon emissions by thousands of tonnes. 

Now, one of the project's leaders, Shaun MacLeod, who was nominated for a Scottish Apprenticeship Award, has told of the impact the mill's apprenticeship scheme has had on his life and career. 

READ MORE: BSW timber lead calls to promote industry as Finance Secretary Kate Forbes visits Fort William sawmill

“Technically I really progressed my learning in electrical and mechanical areas and my understanding of industrial manufacturing through my apprenticeship,” Shaun, who began his modern apprenticeship in electrical control systems with BSW Timber straight from school, said. “My apprenticeship has also helped me massively with my personal skills, my confidence, and being able to communicate with others.

"I’m currently in a mentor role for the younger apprentices.

The Fort William management team is well-versed in apprenticeships, with electrical supervisor Stuart Matheson working his way through the ranks after joining the firm as an electrical apprentice in 2015, while engineering manager Robert Wojcik was appointed in December to support employee development as an apprentice mentor.

Mill manager Oliver Stephen was thrilled to promote the site to Scotland's Finance Secretary Kate Forbes during a recent visit and believes it can be a catalyst to getting more young people interested in the industry.

Forestry Journal: Oliver Stephen with Kate Forbes Oliver Stephen with Kate Forbes

He said: “The visit was great, and it gave Kate [Forbes] the opportunity to hear first-hand from Shaun, Jamie Duncan (a third-year saw doctor apprentice) and Ryan Boyle (a fourth-year mechanical apprentice) on what they do day to day in the mill.

“It’s important to have these visits from people like the Cabinet Secretary as it gives us the opportunity to showcase what we are all about and discuss future growth plans."