From education to employment

Top apprenticeships to help power Britain’s low carbon future

As #NationalApprenticeshipWeek starts this week (Feb 3) Britain’s biggest electricity distributor, @UKPowerNetworks is stepping up its search for 16 new recruits to join the company in September.

Top apprenticeships are on offer in roles that will help to keep the lights on for millions of homes while supporting net zero carbon emissions targets by 2050.

The apprentices will learn vital skills needed for the safe repair, maintenance and connection of overhead power lines (linespeople), underground cables (jointers) and electricity substations (fitters). Besides helping to keep electricity flowing to 8.3 million homes and businesses in London, the South East and East of England, they can also expect to play a future role in meeting the country’s growing demand for low carbon technologies.

Steven Read, trainees programme manager at UK Power Networks, said: “As low carbon technologies result in more people connecting to our electricity networks to charge electric vehicles, generate or use renewable energy and heat their homes using electricity, our apprentices can expect to play an important role in achieving our net zero carbon emissions targets over the next 30 years.

“Technology will move on in leaps and bounds over their careers and our apprentices can play a substantial role. This is an exciting time to join one of the best apprenticeships in the country. They will receive extensive training in the classroom, mentoring and coaching, on-the-job work supervision and skills for life which can open doors to a wide range of careers.”

During their first weeks they join a team building Outward Bound course in the Lake District where they have their first introduction to their outdoors career through wild camping and hiking. They are all given the opportunity to complete a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award to develop their skills.

Steven said: “Our apprentices will be serving our customers so we look for people who share the company’s focus on teamwork and values of continuous improvement, integrity, responsibility, diversity and inclusiveness, respect and unity. They will shadow a team as part of their training, spending at least a quarter of the programme completing on-the-job training.

“Fitness is key to these roles which suit people who want to work outside, in all weathers. When the weather is at its worst we are usually at our busiest on the network. That makes our apprenticeship an ideal opportunity for people that enjoy working in the outdoors and want variety as they will face different challenges every day, usually in a different location.”

For many the foundation apprenticeship is their first experience of living away from home near the company’s training centres in Suffolk and Kent. They spend just over four months at Bridgewater College, Somerset, covering their theory course and taking part in outdoor activities such as high ropes (particularly useful for those who will be working at height as linespeople), mountain biking and canoeing.

Sue Winrow, senior national account manager at the Education and Skills Funding Agency, said: “It is fantastic that UK Power Networks are involved in apprenticeships and provide high quality apprenticeship training opportunities that enable people to build successful careers. Apprenticeships benefit people of all ages and backgrounds: for many, an apprenticeship has opened a new world of work and learning, building their confidence and helping them to progress.”

UK Power Networks is training nearly 100 apprentices in the Apprenticeship Standards for a qualification in Electrical Power Engineering and the programme is endorsed by Energy and Utility Skills. Joan Coe, Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs, Energy & Utility Skills, said: “Apprenticeships provide an excellent opportunity for anyone from any background, with or without experience to earn while they learn. For anyone who enjoys life outside the office, and wants to make a contribution to net zero carbon, applying for one of these roles will open up a career with one of the country’s biggest electricity distributors.”

The theme of National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Look Beyond’ and will celebrate diversity. UK Power Networks was the UK’s first electricity distributor to be awarded the National Equality Standard (NES), the top UK standard of best practice on equality, diversity and inclusion.

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