Develop Training (@DevelopTraining) is seeing the first signs of success from a national training programme designed to champion women in the utilities industry.
The Women in Utilities success programme initially offered free places to eight female candidates keen to progress in this traditionally male-dominated industry.
Now, the first woman to be accepted on the programme last year, Annie Thompson (29), is celebrating a major promotion from her administrative role with Northern Gas Networks to managing contracts on gas holder demolition sites.
While she still has further days scheduled for completing her course, due to delays caused by the Covid pandemic, Annie believes her promotion would not have been possible without the excellent support provided by Develop at its Derby training centre.
And, after starting her new dream job earlier this month, she is urging any women with similar ambitions in any industry sector to go and do it.
“We need to squash these male-female stereotypes in this day and age,” she said. “It might feel daunting for many women to enter a traditionally male-dominated world – but it’s certainly not like it used to be any more.
“I’ve had absolutely no negative reactions on site – quite the opposite in fact. And even with me being less than five feet tall, often tumbling out of those big vans, nobody bats an eyelid.
“The training from Develop has been amazing, and the fact that they are willing to support women getting into these roles is just fantastic.”
Develop Training, part of the JTL Group, is one of the UK’s leading providers of compliance, technical and safety training. Based in Ascot Drive, Derby, it also has dedicated training centres in York, Romford, Swindon, Manchester, Linlithgow, in Scotland, and Lisburn, in Northern Ireland.
The brainchild behind the Women in Utilities success programme was Andy Holmes, business risk and assurance manager at Develop Training, who recognised the importance of increasing diversity and inclusion in the utilities industry.
This followed a study from the Energy and Utilities Skills Partnership which found that just 17 per cent of the workforce in the utilities sector were female, and 99 per cent of “craft” or technical roles were held by men. This compares with a UK workforce average of 47 per cent women.
Andy said: “Our Women in Utilities success programme is the first scheme of its type that we have undertaken.
“Straight away, we realised how important it was, not only for the eight women who agreed to take part, but also in the way it has helped us to re-evaluate our own training practices, to ensure they are as inclusive of as many people as possible.
“Everyone at Develop Training is delighted to hear that our programme has enabled Annie to get the job she really wanted within Northern Gas Networks. We wish her every success in the future.”